Interview with Ryan Cochran and Heidi Musshafen

Penn State’s Ag Man and Woman Of the Year

Heidi Musshafen and Ryan Cochran

Why do you think you were chosen?

RC: I’ve always tried to get involved in as many clubs as time would allow.

HM: I think it might’ve had to do with the variety in my interests and education, being an Agricultural Systems Management and Environmental Resource Management dual major while being raised on a dairy farm, along with my experiences.

What clubs did you join?

RC: I am involved with Collegiate FFA, Collegiate Farm Bureau, Dairy Science Club, and Alpha Zeta fraternity. When I attended Penn State Berks, I helped to start the Ag Club and was the representative to the Penn State Berks Student Council.

HM: I’ve been really involved in the Dairy Sci-ence Club. I started as the Osteochallenge chair, then I was the Food Booth Chair for our Spring Bargain Fling, and eventually I became president! I’ve also been a part of Collegiate Farm Bureau, through which I was able to speak with legislators in D.C. and Harrisburg about agricultural sciences.

What are your career goals?

RC: I want to help people involved in production agriculture. I’d like to move back home to Lancaster and work in agricultural finance.

HM: Currently I’m a part-time financial specialist at Ag Choice Farm Credit and I’m helping out at the farm on weekends, so I’m sticking with what I love. As for the long term, I really want to help farmers succeed, through work and advocating.

How do you advocate for agriculture?

RC: I think just talking to people, especially those not involved in agriculture, is the best way to advocate. Listening to them is oftentimes more important than talking at them.

HM: School makes it fairly easy to do. Just participating in my clubs helps open eyes, and I use social media like Facebook to provide info for my non-ag friends. In the future I hope to be a part of the Dairy Promotion Program.

Is there a professor who greatly influenced you?

RC: There are quite a few Penn State faculty members who touched my life while I was here at Penn State. Dr. Marvin Hall, who instructs courses in forages, is one professor who stands out in my mind. He is so enthusiastic about delivering his topics that I became more interested in what he had to say.

HM: Dale Olver. He’s a dairy science adviser who you can just talk to anytime. He provides excellent advice and is always looking out for your best interests.

Your favorite Penn State memory?

RC: Trips with the Dairy Science Club to California and Ireland. These trips not only were a way to see different aspects of agriculture, but also opened my eyes culturally. During both trips, we toured dairies and learned the differences between those places and Pennsylvania and how the dairy industry is marketed in these different parts of the country and world.

HM: Ag LEAP the summer of my freshman year—it’s seriously one of the best decisions I’ve made! It gave me a real head start in school, in making friends, and in getting to know professors. Oh, and I can’t forget the Costa Rica trip I took with the Dairy Science Club. It really strengthened my friendships while the new experience opened me to ways of life (farming included) in a different culture.

Heidi Musshafen, ASM, ERM ’13
Hometown: Millerton, Pa.
Favorite Creamery flavor: Wicked Caramel Sundae

Ryan Cochran, Ag Science ’13
Hometown: Akron, Pa.
Favorite Creamery flavor: Peachy Paterno

Interview by Frank Desiderio ’14 ERM and Arika Snyder ’14 An Sc