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Berlin ag teacher reaps state award

| Sunday, March 4, 2007

When it comes to a love for agriculture combined with community service, Doyle Paul, of Berlin, Somerset County, is a shining example.

So much so, in fact, that in early February he received the Richard Hoppes Memorial Award, the most prestigious state award handed out by the Pennsylvania Young Farmers Association. The organization held its winter conference Feb. 5-8 at the Quality Inn, Somerset.

Paul, a former vocational agriculture teacher at Berlin and the current adviser of the Berlin Young Farmers Chapter, said the award was a surprise.

"I never expected this," he said. "It is an honor, and I am grateful that the state organization recognized me in this way."

Not only did Paul help organize the statewide conference, but he has spent years working to promote agriculture and community service.

He has served as the adviser for the Berlin Young Farmers' chapter for 41 years and in addition to his honor at the state conference, his chapter received the outstanding chapter of the year award. Last year, the Berlin chapter was recognized as having 106 members, the most of 32 chapters statewide, even beating out more affluent agricultural areas in eastern Pennsylvania.

One of the Berlin members, Keith Leydig, serves as the western region vice president for the state organization.

The Berlin chapter marks its 50th anniversary this year. It was organized in 1957 under the leadership of Berlin ag teacher Everett Nicklow. Nicklow left Berlin to take a position as administrator at the Somerset County Vocational-Technical School, and in doing so he left a void in the agricultural department in Berlin and the strong farming community.

It was then that Doyle Paul was called by the Berlin School District to come back from teaching at Red Lion in York County and become the ag teacher at his alma mater, Berlin Brothersvalley, as well as the Young Farmers adviser. He has held the position for 39 years.

"I feel grateful to have been a part of this organization and will continue to support one of the greatest industries and professions in the world," Paul said.

Gerald Reichard, a former agricultural teacher from Waynesboro who has known Paul for several years, announced the Richard Hoppes Memorial Award and praised Paul for his tireless efforts in agriculture.

"Doyle's love for education and the students allowed him to never work a day in his life in the 36 years he was teaching in Berlin as a vocational agricultural teacher," said Reichard. "He's not only the heart of Berlin but also the agricultural community."

Doyle and his wife of 41 years, Donna, have three grown children -- Deidre, Debbie and Doug -- and several grandchildren.

Even though Doyle often can be found spending time with his grandchildren, he has never stopped teaching. His community activities are unselfish and unending.

He serves as a Western Pennsylvania field consultant for Penn State University. And he has always been active with the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department and at his church, Berlin Brethren Church, where his son-in-law, Tom Sprowls, serves as a full-time youth pastor. For the past 41 years, Paul also has been a driving force behind the Berlin Community Fair, held every September in Berlin.

"I was glad after retiring from teaching in 2001 to continue as the Young Farmer adviser, and it's one of the many organizations I've enjoyed working with throughout the years," Paul said.

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