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Balon Named Outstanding Woman in Pennsylvania Agriculture
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 11/20/2020

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's (PFB) state Women's Leadership Committee selected Amanda Balon as the recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award during the state's largest farm organization's 70th Annual Meeting. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event was held virtually.

The award recognizes a woman who, through her leadership, is contributing to the larger agriculture community. Balon, a fifth-generation farmer, owns Big Maple Farms Natural Therapies, an equine therapeutic riding center. She serves on the Elk County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and on PFB's statewide Agriculture Promotion Committee.

Balon said she is humbled to have receive the award and dedicated it to her family, especially her grandfather, who set an example of community service and engagement. Balon's grandfather passed away earlier this year.

"I wouldn't be here without my family. That passion for people and helping out the community came from him," she said. "Winning this award, that should be dedicated to him, because I wouldn't be here without him."

As a county coordinator of PFB's Ag Literacy Week, Balon has grown involvement in the program, with farmers and local agriculture leaders reading an agriculture-themed book to 50 elementary age classrooms. Since 2015, Balon has volunteered with various 4-H clubs in the county, and she played a leading role in creating Elk County's 211 service--a phone number that individuals can call to learn about various community assistance programs.

"Amanda is a stellar example of a farmer who looks beyond their farm gate and finds ways to help their community," said PFB President Rick Ebert. "Her farm is an excellent example of fulfilling a community need, but Amanda also finds time to serve Elk County. She clearly has the community's best interest in mind."

Balon, who has a master's degree in counseling, opened her therapeutic riding center in 2016 to bring the community to the farm. In addition, she wanted to give children and adults with special needs another means to improve their communication skills and overall abilities.

"We have kids that have been here since we opened. I have watched them grow as individuals, I have seen them enhance their communication skills," Balon said. "That is why I have the passion for this--watching everyone grow and develop."

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