2023 USTFA Fall Conference Recap

September 18, 2023 USTFA

2023 USTFA Fall Conference Recap

Thank You to all who attended and participated in the 2023 USTFA fall conference in Hershey, PA!

The United States Trout Farmers Association (USTFA) fall conference has come to a close, and we would like to thank everyone who participated – our Legends Forum participants (listed below), speakers and presenters (listed below), our sponsors (listed below), our vendors (listed below), our farm tour host (Mark Ely, Limestone Springs), our auction donors, and all those in attendance.

We are extremely grateful to have such a vibrant, enthusiastic, and fun(!) industry.

Clark and Mimi White Distinguished Service Award

During the USTFA awards ceremony, two awards were presented. First, USTFA president, Mark Ely presented the Clark and Mimi White Distinguished Service Award to long time industry member and USTFA advisor, Charlie Conklin with Big Brown Trout.

Charlie Conklin presented USTFA’s Clark and Mimi White Distinguished Service Award alongside Allen Conklin

Charlie Conklin’s Acceptance Speech

I have been around this association for a long time. That makes me think, did I really earn this award or did I just wear you all down?

I have had the privilege and honor of presenting this award several times over the years. Tonight, I am very emotional and humbled to learn that my name will be listed among the wonderful previous recipients. Thank you so much for this honor. I am truly humbled to be in the company of people who have inspired me, who have helped shape my thinking, and who have helped me realize the potential of our profession to truly make a difference.

I don’t quite know what happened, I was always the young guy in the room. I say I started fish farming at age 10 because that is when I built my first trout ponds on my dad’s land with my dad’s pick, shovel and wheelbarrow, and free labor from my friends, who thought they were coming over to play. After graduating college in 1984 I joined the United States Trout Farmers Association and a few years later joined the board of directors. Over the years some other trout farmers would ask. “Why should I be a member of USTFA, what do they do for me?” I would say and still say it’s not about what USTFA can do for you it is about what we can do together to help ourselves and our industry. I have gotten more from my involvement with the Association than I have given. The network of knowledgeable trout farmers and related professionals and their willingness to freely share information has been rewarding and valuable to myself, my company, and our industry. USTFA played a major role in the creation of the National Aquaculture Association. After the creation of the NAA some have questioned the need for the USTFA. The USTFA is very valuable to our unique part of aquaculture. When attending their first USTFA conference I have heard other trout farmers say. “These are our people, we belong here.” I too have always felt that way.

I want to thank my wife Marilou, and my children, Kate, Allen, and Patrick, for being patient, helpful, and supportive on this journey. Also, I want to thank all of you for putting up with me for so long, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many of you. Thank you.

– Charlie Conklin


Ugly Trout Farmer Award

The second “award”, USTFA’s Ugly Trout Farmer Award, was presented to USTFA president, Mark Ely from last year’s award recipient, Katie Harris.

Mark Ely presented Ugly Trout Farmer Award from Katie Harris

Election of New USTFA President and Board of Directors

Jesse Trushenski elected as USTFA President at the 2023 USTFA fall conference

At the conference, the board elected a new President, Jesse Trushenski with Riverence, and a new Vice President, Johnathan Blakey with Crystal Lake Fisheries. The board also re-elected Brittany Peachy with Hudson Valley Fisheries as Treasurer and Allen Conklin with Big Brown Trout as Secretary.

A huge thank you to Mark Ely for his dedication and leadership as USTFA President over the past two years! 

Additionally, USTFA members elected three directors to the USTFA board. The three newly elected USTFA directors are Katie Harris, Brittany Peachy (incumbent), and Jesse Trushenski (incumbent).

With the newly elected mentioned above, the 2023/2024 USTFA officers and directors include:

Jesse Trushenski, President
Johnathan Blakey, Vice President
Brittany Peachy, Treasurer
Allen Conklin, Secretary
Kyle Martin, Director
Danielle Florenzen, Director
Jackie Zimmerman, Director
Katie Harris, Director


After our two days of sessions and events, the Mark Ely hosted a tour of his beautiful farm, Limestone Springs. After the tour of Limestone Springs, the group headed to Hershey Chocolate World for a a sweet wrap-up of the 2023 USTFA fall conference.

Thank You / 2024 Conference

Thank you again to all those who attended and participated in this year’s USTFA fall conference – we hope to see you all next year at the 2024 USTFA fall conference at Rolling Hills Casino in Corning, CA September 11 – 13!


Conference Sponsors

Zeigler Bros., Inc.
Green Plains
Aquatic Equipment and Design, Inc.
Pacific Seafood
Idaho Aquaculture Association

Conference Vendors

Zeigler Bros., Inc.
Green Plains
Syndel USA
Structural Armor
Harrietta Hills Trout Farm
Kasco Marine
Optimal Aquafeed
USDA/National Ag Statistics Service
Aquatic Equipment and Design, Inc.
Bock Industries
Merck Animal Health

Conference Speakers and Presenters

Curtis Crouse, The Conservation Fund
Jonathan van Senten, Virginia Tech
Ganesh Karunakaran, Mississippi State University
Vikas Kumar, University of Idaho
Wendy Sealey, USDA, ARS
Ryan Maxwell, University of Idaho
Johnathan Blakey, Crystal Lake Fisheries
Tim Leeds, USDA, ARS
Adam Pritts, Laurel Hill Trout Farm
Beth Cleveland, USDA, ARS
Brian McHail, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Paul Zajicek, National Aquaculture Association
Myron Kebus, Michigan State University
Allen Conklin, Big Brown Trout Hatchery
Jesse Trushenski, Riverence
John Davidson, Conservation Fund
Jessie Ma, University of Idaho
Katie Harris, Mt. Lassen Trout
Greg Weber, USDA, ARS

Legends Forum

Charlie Conklin, Big Brown Trout Hatchery
Marvin Emerson, Crystal Lake Fisheries
Howard Brown, Carolina Mountain Trout
Phil Mackey, Mt. Lassen Trout

The 2023 USTFA fall conference was held at the historic Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania. A full agenda from the conference can be viewed here.


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