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An Alumni Fellow for All Seasons

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding receives one of the University’s highest honors.

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Photo credit: Bucks County Courier Times

Russell Redding, who holds two degrees from the college, was named a 2015 Alumni Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Redding received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education in 1982 and a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education in 1999. He also is a 2005 graduate of the Penn State Agribusiness Executive Program.

“Russell Redding has earned a reputation as an extraordinary and highly effective public servant and administrator,” said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “He has a unique ability to connect with diverse stakeholders, a thorough understanding of the issues affecting agriculture, and a vision for creating opportunities for the next generation of agricultural professionals.

“i’ve also found Secretary Redding to be a great supporter of the college and an excellent colleague in addressing the challenges facing Pennsylvania agriculture,” he said. “We’re delighted for him to receive this well-deserved honor.”

Redding was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Pennsylvania Senate on May 14, 2015, as the 26th Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In that capacity, he leads a department that encourages, protects, and promotes agriculture and related industries while providing consumer protection through inspection services that impact the health and financial security of Pennsylvania’s citizens.

It is Redding’s second stint in the cabinet post, having served as secretary from 2009 to 2011. He joined the agriculture department’s leadership team in 1995 and served for several years as executive deputy secretary.

From 2011 to 2015, he was dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University, where he provided leadership for all academic-related matters, including program development, evaluation, faculty development, strategic planning, and budgeting.

Redding’s extensive experience in state government also includes working as the vocational student organization coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where he provided leadership to the Pennsylvania FFA Association. In addition, he was a member of the Department of Labor and Industry’s executive staff, helping shape policies to keep Pennsylvania businesses thriving while bolstering the state’s workforce.

Redding also has made contributions at the federal level. He spent time on Capitol Hill as agriculture policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford, and he currently serves as chair of the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture.

Redding has an innate understanding of production agriculture, stemming from his youth on his family’s dairy farm and his time as a dairy farm operator. He was named an Outstanding Alumnus by the College of Agricultural Sciences and was inducted into its Armsby Honor Society in 2006.

Redding and his wife, Nina, who holds a graduate degree from Penn State, are members of the Penn State Alumni Association and live in the Gettysburg area with their sons, Garrison and Elliot.

—Chuck Gill