By Trish Raridan Preston, AgriPOWER Class X participant
Our AgriPOWER class focused our November session on two primary topics: state level governmental and judicial affairs and sustainability. Our travels brought us to the capital city of Columbus, which is where we met up with Supreme Court Justice Judi French, who gave us a personal tour of her courtroom, as well as shared with us the judicial process for the court.
We enjoyed the opportunity to meet with several of our elected officials through legislative visits in the House of Representatives. Our discussions were a mosaic of topics that were concerns we brought from our various home counties and an illustration of the broad experiences and backgrounds from which we each hail. From water quality management to funding for 4-H and extension education to the opioid crisis hitting all of our communities in devastating ways, we shared personal stories from our home farms and neighbors. We received empathetic and compassionate responses and encouragement that our voices were heard.
In addition to our visits at the statehouse and supreme court, we learned about the lobbying process from OFBF lobbyists. We covered judicial issues and legal authority with OFBF policy counsel Leah Curtis. We were led through a workshop on conflict management with Dr. Jeff King from the Leadership Center at Ohio State. Dr. Doug Jackson-Smith, assistant director for the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, gave a lecture on sustainable agriculture. We learned that the answers to what is sustainable is most often best answered by “it depends” because each operation and situation is different and must be evaluated for its progress to move towards sustainable outcomes involving people, planet and profit.
With hard hats on and bright reflective vests, we were invited into the Rumpke Recycling facility to watch the recycling process in action. Who knew “trash” could be so interesting! We were fascinated with the process and meticulous care each employee takes to ensure a quality recycling stream. For instance, aluminum cans that come into the facility are recycled and back on your grocers shelf within 60 days. We learned about markets for recycled products and how they are working every day to find new ways to use recycled materials and close the circle.
Our adventures ended with a visit to the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg. We were introduced to the new ODA director along with several of the deputy directors. We toured a few of the labs including the residue lab and the animal lab. We were shown the great amount of care and labor that goes into each case that comes into the facility. The veterinarian staff is one of the best in the country and they work tirelessly to keep our food supply and animal populations, both domestic and wild, healthy through their thorough investigations and partnerships with agencies and animal producers all across the state.
I leave each month from our AgriPOWER sessions with that “mind blown” feeling. Each time, I am rewarded with workshops to build my leadership skills, introductions to topics I knew nothing about before or opportunities to see processes in action that open my eyes to a whole new understanding and enlightenment. I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of this leadership institute and grateful to our many sponsors and speakers (and the outstanding OFB staff) who have provided all of us this opportunity. We appreciate your investment into our leadership growth more than you know.
Other AgriPOWER Class X blogs
Jacob Hoelscher learns about the importance of agvocacy.
Laramie Wells discusses Farm Bureau’s roots.
Lindsey Walls describes the care taken to raise pigs.
Megan Dresbach is ready to change the misperceptions about agriculture.
AgriPOWER has inspired Doug Franz to become a county Farm Bureau board member.
D.C. trip was a moving experience for Amanda Hill.
Katie Esselburn talks about how she’s rooted in agriculture.
Amy Hamilton learns how the legislative, judicial branches work.