Members of the Leadership Team
Ben Lerew -Chairperson
Ben is the third generation to grow fruit at Lerew Brothers' Orchards. Ben is also a member of the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania Research Committee. When he is not in the orchard he can often be found on the stream fly fishing or out in the woods hunting.
Andrew Schwalm -Vice Chair
Andrew is a third generation grower of tree fruit, asparagus, corn and soybeans. He is an innovator and built his own asparagus washer/cutter and two harvesting machines. His operation is in Hegins, PA, and he enjoys the opportunities YGA offers to network with other young growers.
Katie Epstein - Treasurer
Katie is a loan officer with AgChoice Farm Credit working with growers in York, Adams and surrounding counties where she has been since 2008 after graduating from Cornell University. When not involved with AgChoice responsibilities or volunteering with the many local organizations she is involved with she helps on her family’s dairy farm and enjoys spending time with her family, especially cheering on her husband who is a marathon runner.
Ben Wenk - Mentor
Ben is the seventh generation to farm at his family orchard operation, Three Springs Fruit Farm in Wenksville, PA. Ben is also an accomplished musician and enjoys promoting local fruits and vegetables at urban markets and through social networking sites like Facebook. He was also instrumental in gaining a Food Alliance certification for Three Springs in 2010.
Ben Keim - Liaison to SHAP
Ben is also the fifth generation of fruit growers on his family farm, Keim Orchards in Boyertown, PA. He has helped coordinate several research trials on the farm and served as an advisory panel member for the Comprehensive Automation for Specialty Crops (CASC) project. When not in the orchard he can often be found at the baseball field.
SHAP Partnership & SHAP Scholarship:
Horticulture Student Support (SHAP Scholarship)—Sidney Kuhn, Wayne Hollabaugh, Jen Snavely, Bruce Hollabaugh
Workshops & Speaking Engagements (Transition Planning)—
Jen Snavely, Emily Rice-Townsend, Katie Epstein, Hallie Van Horn, Sarah Lott, Alana Anderson
Tours (Sharing Diversification & Marketing Ideas, Exploring Innovations)—
Justin Weaver, Ben Keim, Sam Boyer, Tyler Butler, Mark Boyer, Andrew Schwalm, Mike Flinchbaugh
Service Work & Leadership Development—Ben Keim, Maggie Travis, Tyler Butler, Julie Bolyard, Alana Anderson, Tyler Fetters, Ben Wenk, Philip Glaize, Mark Boyer
Fundraising—Matt Strite, Ben Lerew, Ben Wenk, Katie Epstein, Clair Kauffman
Liason to IFTA - Nathan Milburn
Adams County Cooperative Extension
The Young Grower Alliance is involved in many activities, including: sharing diversification and marketing ideas through orchard tours, exploring innovations at national and international workshops and helping out in their communities through service opportunities. As the group's coordinator, I assist members in planning and coordinating these and the many other activities in which they are involved. I'm always seeking to make new connections through outreach and networking. Please share any ideas you may have for future YGA programming!
From its beginning in 2005, YGA has been a valued network for extending Penn State’s tree fruit educational programs to the specialty crop industry. Assisting young growers in transitioning to horticultural systems that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable through tours, in-depth workshops, and field trials is a truly meaningful part of an extension educator’s role. Young growers are invited to contact me if you have horticultural questions or ideas for answering those questions through research trials in your orchards!