Outstanding Chicken Growers Honored for Yearlong Hard Work

Delmarva Chicken Association announced the recipients of its Outstanding Grower awards, honoring 10 farm families in Delmarva's chicken community with recognition as exemplary farmers raising broiler chickens. Each grower is an independent farmer raising chickens under contract for one of Delmarva's five chicken companies.

"Time and again, Delmarva chicken growers serve as examples for the chicken community and the nation," said Holly Porter, DCA's executive director. "When growers stand and speak at meetings and public hearings, their voices command attention and respect. When they share their everyday rewards and challenges on social media, they help people who never set foot on a farm understand how chickens are raised. And they are valued in their communities by all who understand their roles as stewards of the land."

Highlights of interviews with the 10 Outstanding Growers
Rick and Diane Smith, Pittsville, Md.
Rick and Diane Smith of Pittsville, Md., who operate two chicken houses and grow for Mountaire Farms. "A chicken farmer has to be dependable, really. We're trying to do the best we can," Rick Smith said. "I always like to be in there to make sure the feeders are full, the drinkers are OK, and the birds are comfortable first thing in the morning, when the lights come on." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.

The following growers were honored (and high-resolution photos of each are available on Flickr):

  • Jay Bonk, a Laurel, Del. grower who operates two chicken houses and raises chickens for Amick Farms.
  • Shane Cohee, a Hurlock, Md. grower with three chicken houses who raises chickens for Allen Harim.
  • Jason and Courtney Dryden, Westover, Md. growers with eight chicken houses who grow for Mountaire Farms.
  • Andy and Bonnie Lewis, Newark, Md. growers operating two chicken houses who produce chickens for Tyson.
  • Lemston McCrea, a Laurel, Del. grower whose two chicken houses produce chicken for Perdue Farms.
  • Brenda and Keith Powell of Milford, Del., who operate six chicken houses and grow for Mountaire Farms.
  • Rick and Diane Smith of Pittsville, Md., who operate two chicken houses and grow for Mountaire Farms.
  • John Swartzentruber of Bridgeville, Del., whose two chicken houses produce birds for Mountaire Farms.
  • Tonya Timmons, a Snow Hill, Md. grower with two chicken houses who raises chickens for Perdue Farms.
  • Amy Tran, a Westover, Md. grower with five chicken houses who grows for Amick Farms.
Jay Bonk, Laurel, Del.
Jay Bonk, a Laurel, Del. grower who operates two chicken houses and raises chickens for Amick Farms. "I don't have any magic that I'm doing. I'm just adamant about doing what needs to be done and putting in the time out there," Bonk said of his good performance as a chicken grower. High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
The Outstanding Grower awards were presented during the Booster BBQ, an event at the Delaware State Fairgrounds and the Delmarva chicken community's first major gathering since 2019. 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, 35 vendors, and a musical performance by country artist and Ocean City, Md. native Jimmy Charles.

The growers received silver Revere bowls and were recognized on stage at the Booster BBQ. They also received lane signs that can be displayed at the entrances to their farms acknowledging them as outstanding poultry producers.

Lemston McCrea, Laurel, Del.
"Anybody who decides to grow chickens, you've really got to love that animal, that fowl, that bird, to do this," said Lemston McCrea, a Laurel, Del. grower whose two chicken houses produce chicken for Perdue Farms. "You got to have this love in your heart that you want to do this, that you want it to work for you." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Amy Tran, Westover, Md.
Amy Tran, a Westover, Md. grower with five chicken houses who grows for Amick Farms. "This is a team effort; I cannot do this by myself. It starts with Amick trusting me enough to give me their chickens," Tran said. "For me to see them growing is very fulfilling." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Tonya Timmons, Snow Hill, Md.
Tonya Timmons, a Snow Hill, Md. grower with two chicken houses who raises chickens for Perdue Farms. "There's a scripture that says, one plants, another waters, but it's God that gives the increase, and that's what happens here," Timmons said. High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Carlene and John Swartzentruber, Bridgeville, Del.
Carlene and John Swartzentruber of Bridgeville, Del., whose two chicken houses produce birds for Mountaire Farms. "When you get done and the birds do well, you can see the investment of time and things that you did," John Swartzentruber said. "There's a reward financially when you do well, and there's a reward in just having a good flock of chickens." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Shane Cohee, Hurlock, Md.
Shane Cohee, a Hurlock, Md. grower with three chicken houses who raises chickens for Allen Harim. "I like to spend some time in the houses. Sit on a bucket in there. Some evenings I'll just sit there for an hour, sitting and watching them go," Cohee said. "I don't know what I do that anyone else doesn't do. I spend a lot of time in there and take care of little things - try to stay in front of any issues." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Jason and Courtney Dryden, Westover, Md.
Jason and Courtney Dryden, Westover, Md. growers with eight chicken houses who grow for Mountaire Farms. "I love this area. I like being home and being close to my family," Jason Dryden said. "You get days when things go well and you can do whatever you want to do... It started to be a good life, and I tell a lot of people, I wouldn't change it for anything." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Brenda and Keith Powell, Milford, Del.
Brenda and Keith Powell of Milford, Del., who operate six chicken houses and grow for Mountaire Farms. "A quarter-million chickens every 8 weeks is a lot of people we feed," Brenda Powell said. "And we have something we can pass on to our kids, and hopefully, their kids." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.
Andy and Bonnie Lewis, Newark, Md.
Andy and Bonnie Lewis, Newark, Md. growers operating two chicken houses who produce chickens for Tyson. "I'm proud of where we've come. Our family, our two daughters, were raised up into it," Andy Lewis said. "We're just so proud of the history and continuing on with the family tradition of farming. It feels like you have this momentum behind you, really pushing you forward." High-resolution photos of all the Outstanding Growers are available here.


About Delmarva Chicken Association
Delmarva Chicken Association, founded in 1948, is the Delmarva chicken industry's voice as the premier membership association focusing on advocacy, education and member relations. DCA's vision is to be the most-respected chicken organization in the United States. For more information about the Delmarva Chicken Association, visit www.dcachicken.com or call 302-856-9037.

other news

6-30-21 / James Fisher

Delmarva Chicken Association granted scholarships totaling $11,000 to five students pursuing...


6-30-21 / James Fisher

Delmarva Chicken Association granted scholarships totaling $11,000 to five students pursuing...


6-30-21 / James Fisher

Delmarva Chicken Association granted scholarships totaling $11,000 to five students pursuing...


6-18-21 / James Fisher

Delmarva Chicken Association presented awards to four people - Rep. Andy Harris, Dr. Steve...


4-20-21 / James Fisher

Delmarva Chicken Association is publishing its reference manual for vegetative environmental...


News Release Archives