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DAA: Mark W. Bitz

Mark W. Bitz

Plainville, NY | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2000

Armed with a bachelor’s from Purdue and a master’s from Cornell, Mark W. Bitz set out to take on the world. For him that means a life of learning and teaching, little of it in classrooms. By day, he’s president and general manager of a 500,000-bird turkey farm and related businesses, where one of the company’s 10 strategies is “learn, learn, learn.” He’s also an avid reader and writer, particularly on practices for living and marriage. “I learn about what is universal and what is particular,” Bitz says. “Some of the most critical conflicts in our time are the perspectives that come out of traditional religions versus science. I’ve tried to glean from both some practices for living well and organizing a business, a family, and a culture.” Bitz also opens doors of learning for others. On the job, he developed a 20-week employee training program. Outside of work, he chairs the New York State 4-H Foundation Board and serves in a group at Cornell that is reformulating 4-H programs, both aimed at helping adults spend more time with children. On the Purdue rowing crew he learned that play, too, has value. “What I loved at Purdue was that people have good balance. I learned lots in the classes, and there was time for extracurricular activities. I got fully as much out of those experiences as I did out of the classroom.” Today, he teaches that lesson by coaching youth soccer. Bitz also helped develop and build The Pioneer Experience, a central New York facility replicating yesteryear, and Plainville Farms welcomes thousands of school children for tours each year. “Usually, if I’m involved in something, it doesn’t stay the way it was when I found it,” he says. “I like to think I leave it better. For sure, it ends up different.”