DCA recognizes allies of chicken community
HARRINGTON, Del. — The Delmarva Chicken Association presented awards to three people — Steve Schwalb, Ron Darnell, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — whose support, work and advocacy have been crucial to the success of Delmarva’s chicken community.
The awards were presented during the Booster BBQ, an annual event for DCA members and invited guests at the Delaware State Fairgrounds. More than 800 DCA members and others in the chicken community attended the event, which featured barbecued chicken prepared and served by Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company and Harrington Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, ice cream from Vanderwende’s, door prizes, more than 40 vendors, and a musical performance by the Jones Boys.
Steve Schwalb, who led several Perdue Farms departments and spearheaded key initiatives for the company before his 2015 retirement, received the J. Frank Gordy, Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award. Schwalb began his Perdue career in the 1980s as an industrial engineer; by the time he retired, he’d taken on executive roles in corporate communications, government relations, mergers and acquisitions, and sustainability. He also developed strong ties to the Maryland Food Bank, where he remains a board member.
“Every position I had, I always found a new challenge, and every challenge ended up being something that was always rewarding,” Schwalb said. “This recognition makes me feel good about the fact that other people thought I was adding some value to the industry. It’s just a tremendous honor.”
Ron Darnell, the Perdue Farms Director of Live Production, received the Edward H. Ralph Medal of Achievement.
Raised on a West Virginia farm that produced beef and tobacco, Darnell joined Perdue as a flock supervisor in 1985 and ascended the ranks to become a growout manager, live production manager, and now directs live operations across the country. In 2005, he led the Delmarva Chicken association as its 52nd president. “I’ve been really fortunate in my career to have been surrounded by really good people in the Delmarva Chicken Association, at Perdue, and personally,” Darnell said. “I certainly liked the outcome when we could influence things in a positive way and help our industry. That’s really what DCA’s about — improving our industry for allied businesses, farmers and integrators.”
Gov. Larry Hogan, a two-term governor of Maryland, received the DCA Medal of Achievement.
“I am honored and humbled to accept this gracious award from the Delmarva Chicken Association,” Hogan said in a prerecorded address for the Booster BBQ. Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain crises have resulted in a great deal of uncertainty. And yet our dedicated and selfless farmers have continued working hard every single day to keep our food supply chain functioning with minimal interruptions. There’s no doubt about how hard all of you are working for us.
“Your drive, character, work ethic and resilience during tough times serves as an inspiration to me and to all Americans, I want the entire agricultural community to know that our administration will continue to support the Delmarva Chicken Association, and we will continue standing up and fighting hard for all of our farmers every single day.”