By Matt Reese
This winter countless farmers and others involved in Ohio agriculture will grab a donut and a cup of coffee to settle in for a winter meeting or event chocked full of information. The meetings offer a chance to learn, socialize and recognize award winners.
The calendar is always full this time of year for those of us at the OCJ/OAN team. For example, in the current seven day stretch, I have attended (or will be attending) the Power Show (Friday and Saturday), the Ohio Farmers Union Annual Meeting (Friday), the Ohio Cattlemen’s Banquet (Saturday), a Preble County Farm Bureau meeting (tonight) and a meeting with the Ohio AgriBusiness Association (tomorrow).
These events are all important and valuable, but the schedule can become a bit daunting. And, my schedule is light in comparison to that of many others —particularly the dedicated Extension professionals who impart their wisdom at many of these events. Here is an excerpt from a Q&A with Mike Hogan, from the Extension office in Fairfield County, about his winter meeting schedule.
OCJ: Mike, how many meetings will you be involved with, both as a presenter and behind the scenes, throughout the winter months? How do you keep up with all of the travel and the schedule?
Mike: Ha! Maybe you should ask my wife this question! Last week I taught eight different programs in six days. I taught Agronomy Day, pesticide applicator training, a local foods workshop, two workshops for Christmas tree growers on Saturday, and a session at the Power Show on Sunday. And that doesn’t include doing radio shows and writing newspaper articles. It can get harried and confusing at this time of year, but it is also very rewarding helping people learn how to improve their farms, businesses, and communities. At one workshop last week we had a family come up after the presentation to tell us that an OSU Extension shale gas workshop which they attended last year was the best educational program they had ever participated in, and that it helped them negotiate a much more favorable lease than their neighbors signed. That type of feedback makes the late night drives home worthwhile at this time of year.
OCJ: What meeting has the best meal? What was it?
Mike: The local foods workshop lunch was great. The caterer we worked with buys as much locally produced food as they can and really pride themselves on serving seasonal Ohio fare. The corn chowder was incredible!
OCJ: What is the most enjoyable part of the winter meeting season?
Mike: Spring! When farmers get busy and get back outdoors!
Hogan, and many other dedicated Extension professionals really do an incredible job traversing Ohio with their pertinent, research-based information to help you on the farm and assist me in filling up the pages of the OCJ and the website. For that, we should probably all say “thank-you” more often than we do.
For my two cents, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Banquet set the food bar very high and is going to be hard to beat for the best meal this winter meeting season. But, I am willing to keep an open mind, and stomach, for the remaining winter events on my schedule. Maybe I’ll see you out there across the table at one of Ohio’s many winter meetings.