The Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) recognized 13 outstanding chicken growers and three individuals for their work on behalf of the chicken industry. Guests and hundreds of people in the Delmarva Peninsula’s chicken community gathered April 16 in Salisbury, Md., for the 58th Delmarva Poultry Industry Booster Banquet, the 1,800-member trade association’s annual membership dinner.  

The J. Frank Gordy, Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award, DPI’s highest honor, was presented to William Vanderwende of Sussex County, Del. Though not employed in the chicken industry, he has made huge contributions to its continued success in Delaware and the entire Delmarva Peninsula.  He has served as chairman of the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission since its creation in 1999. In this capacity, Vanderwende has helped steer this policy-making group of farmers and others to develop and implement the Delaware Nutrient Management Law, a farmer-friendly, common sense, and bottom-up approach to working on nutrient management issues. Under his leadership, the commission helped guide Delaware through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the state’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation regulations. Due to his dedicated work, Delaware’s program is recognized nationally and accepted by Delaware chicken growers and other farmers.

Vanderwende was a member of the Sussex Conservation District board of supervisors for 36 years, 22 of them as chairman. In this position, he and fellow board members provided tremendous support for Delaware chicken growers. He is a past member of the Delaware Governor’s Advisory Council on Agriculture, past vice chairman of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees, a member of the Delaware State Fair Board of Directors, a manager of his local tax ditch association, and a member of his local board of education.  DPI’s recognition also was due in part to his other accomplishments, such as being named Delaware’s Outstanding Young Farmer by the Jaycees in 1968, recipient of the Sussex County Service Club Award for outstanding service to agriculture, the Delaware Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year in 1993, the Delaware 4-H Alumnus Award in 1994, and the Delaware Secretary of Agriculture’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 2009. 

The Edward H. Ralph DPI Medal of Achievement was presented to chicken industry veteran Dr. G. Donald Ritter of Salisbury, Md. Ritter began his career as a chicken health professional on the Delmarva Peninsula soon after graduation from veterinary school. He joined Showell Farms in 1985 and then worked for Perdue Farms Inc.  He has been with Mountaire Farms since 1995.  Ritter has chaired DPI’s Poultry Health Committee since 2001 and under his leadership DPI’s National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing, and Live Production remains the premier meeting of its type in America. He was a leader during the 2004 Delmarva challenge from avian influenza.

He has worked with state and federal departments of agriculture, members of Congress, and professional organizations to ensure the prosperity of the chicken industry.  He is the chairman of the National Chicken Council’s Poultry Health Committee and president of the American Association of Veterinarians in Broiler Production.  He is an at-large representative on the General Conference Committee for the National Poultry Improvement Plan. 


Connie Parvis, DPI director of education and consumer information, was recognized with a DPI Medal of Achievement for her nearly 43 years of service to the chicken industry and DPI.  Under her leadership since 1972, the Delmarva Chicken Festival and Delmarva Chicken Cooking Contest were premier industry promotion events. Parvis worked for decades on the National Chicken Cooking Contest. Her hundreds of presentations to television and in-person audiences helped promote the chicken industry and greater consumption of chicken. In recent years, she has directed DPI’s educational programs, including projects for students and teachers, the production of videos about Delmarva’s industry, coordinating DPI’s college scholarship program, developing school curriculum, assisting with outreach programs to the general public, heading the effort that produced the 1998 book about the history of Delmarva’s chicken industry, and pitching in whenever asked for thousands of other activities.  Parvis served for many years on the board of directors of the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and the board of the Maryland Agricultural Council. She is the longest serving DPI employee in the organization’s history.

 Additionally, DPI recognized 13 outstanding poultry producers.  Selected by their companies from Delmarva’s nearly 1,600 poultry growers, this year’s recipients are:

  • Scot and Johnna Beauchamp, Westover, Md. - Mountaire Farms
  • Roger and Karen Davis, Felton, Del. - Perdue Farms
  • Mark and Vicky Eck, Henderson, Md. - Mountaire Farms
  • Jeon (Howard) Haejong and Clara Lee, Eden, Md. - Allen Harim
  • Steve and Rose Hostetler, Sudlersville, Md. - Allen Harim
  • Kung Yong and Mee Jo, Hebron, Md. - Mountaire Farms
  • Richard and Janet Kauffman, Harrington, Del. - Amick Farms
  • Jason and Kim Lambertson, Pocomoke, Md. - Tyson Foods
  • Judy and Zach Loller, Chestertown, Md. - Perdue Farms
  • Ronnie and Barbara Matthews, Greenbush, Va. - Tyson Foods, Inc.
  • Mack and Norma Lee McCary, Frankford, Del. - Mountaire Farms
  • Rantz and Donna Purcell, Princess Anne, Md. - Perdue Farms
  • Ron and Janice Whaley, Laurel, Del. - Perdue Farms