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Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development Honors Its Outstanding Employees in 2021

For immediate release: November 2, 2021

LANSING, MI – Adaptability. Partnership. Pivoting. Commitment to service. These are the words describing 2021 as it continued to present significant challenges and difficulties for both Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses and state employees alike.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is known for its ongoing commitment to its customers and stakeholders for being problem-solvers, for its dedication to growing the state’s food and agriculture sector, and for its tenacity to overcome the most unique challenges. The 2021 MDARD employee award winners, as nominated by their MDARD colleagues, exemplify those values. Additionally, 61 employees celebrating 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 50-year anniversaries were also recognized during MDARD’s virtual Employee Awards Ceremony.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to partner with MDARD staff who work to protect public and animal health each day and have invested themselves in the growth and success of Michigan’s food and agriculture community,” said Gary McDowell, MDARD Director. “This year’s award winners exemplify the culture and dedication within the department to continually provide the highest level of service to Michiganders and our constituents.”

The 2021 award winners are:

Leadership Award: John Switzer of St. Johns – John serves as the Conservation Programs Manager in MDARD’s Environmental Stewardship Division.

The “Leadership Award” is designed to provide recognition to those staff who are viewed as exceptional leaders by their peers, supervisors, and customers.  The award recognizes an MDARD employee who rises to a challenge to lead, inspires others to act, and seeks opportunities to innovate and improve areas within the department.

Every Day Hero Award: Johnathon (JC) Schweda of Mio– JC serves as a department technician for the Agriculture Development Division.

The “Every Day Hero Award” affirms the value MDARD has in employees who may not be in the spotlight, yet steadily and faithfully get things done every day. It’s given to an employee who consistently demonstrates dependability, diligence, initiative, and teamwork. 

Front Line Ambassador Award: Kevin Kern of Frankenmuth – Kevin is the Pesticide Registration and Certification Program Specialist for the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division.

The “Front Line Ambassador Award” is given to an employee who is regularly put in precarious and difficult situations, all the while demonstrating a positive attitude, identifying creative options for resolution, and following through with the constituent.  The award is not given for a singular achievement or activity, but rather reflects a continuing commitment to the mission and values of MDARD.

Rookie of the Year: 2021 Recipient: Chase Hannahs of Grand Ledge– Chase is a Laboratory Technician in the department’s Geagley Laboratory.

The “Rookie of the Year Award” recognizes a new employee (on the job less than three years) whose service has set a benchmark for all others to attain. It is designed to provide recognition to those staff who are viewed as up-and-coming leaders within the department.