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Ohio couple selected as National Outstanding Young Farmers

Nick and Sunny Cummings of Washington Court House were selected national winners at the 62nd annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 15-18 in Sacramento, Cal. Four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation. National winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2019.

Nick Cummings credits his involvement in 4-H and FFA with cultivating an interest in agriculture that would lead to his future career. When a local farmer gave him a job moving wagons of grain from the field to the grain bins at age 16, he knew that somehow he would become a first-generation farmer. At 17, Nick convinced a local banker to loan him enough money to buy a baler.

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OEFFA recognizes Larry and Cynthia Ringer and Sean McGovern

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2018 recipients for the Stewardship and Service awards.

Larry and Cynthia Ringer of Stark County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Sean McGovern of Franklin County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture.

2018 Stewardship Award Winner — Larry and Cynthia Ringer

Larry and Cynthia Ringer founded Ohio Earth Food in 1972 with Cynthia’s family, in the midst of the chemical agriculture boom. At the time, they were working on the vegetable farm of Cynthia’s dad and early organic farmer, Glenn Graber. After observing the benefits of kelp and concerned about the effects of conventional farming on the environment and human health, they realized there could be an emergent market for organic fertilizers, and started selling kelp products and rock phosphate.

“We were in the organic business before organic was the buzzword it is today,” Larry said.

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Specht wins OFBF Discussion Meet

Annie Specht of Columbus is the winner of the 2018 Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals Discussion Meet. The annual contest tests participants’ subject knowledge, problem solving abilities and personal and small group communications skills.

Specht won a $1,000 cash award from Nationwide Insurance, an expense-paid trip to the 2018 Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Columbus and an expense-paid trip to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in New Orleans, where she will represent Ohio in the national Discussion Meet competition.

Specht, a Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau member, is an assistant professor of agricultural communication at Ohio State University. She is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and the Association for Communications Excellence. She earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in agricultural and Extension education at Ohio State University and her doctorate in agricultural leadership, education and communications at Texas A&M University.

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Everman named to senior position at Ohio Farm Bureau


Rebecca Everman of Westerville has been named Senior Executive Assistant and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Everman’s senior officer position includes being the communications liaison between the Board of Trustees, management, and high level external partners. She also assists Executive Vice President Adam Sharp with administrative duties.

Sharp said the search to fill the important position was extensive. “For 18 years, Rebecca has been a key contributor to the OFBF communications team. Her record of excellent work positioned her well for this new role.”

Since 2010, Everman served as executive assistant to OFBF’s vice president of communications and previously served 10 years as an administrative assistant. She was raised on an Illinois farm and received a diploma from Indiana Business College. Her civic engagement includes the Blendon Township Parks Advisory Committee and the Blendon Township Community Outreach, Prevention and Education program. She and her husband, James, are the parents of two children.

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NCGA media and policy training takes advocacy to new heights

A group of veteran farmer leaders from across the country met in Washington this week to take part in the NCGA Policy and Media Training program co-sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and Syngenta. This program, which replaces Advanced Leadership, offers high-level training for a select group of Leadership At Its Best alumni. During the program, participants received an insider’s view of how lobbyists work on Capitol Hill and talked through some tough issues facing the association and American agriculture.
“The program provides an impactful way to sharpen the skills gained through Leadership At Its Best in a short time,” said NCGA President Kevin Skunes, himself a graduate of the program. “These farmers have stepped up as leaders, volunteering their time and talent on behalf of corn farmers and the entire agricultural community. They are passionate about farming. We aim to give them the knowledge and tools to harness that passion and effectively drive positive change.”
The class underwent extensive media training with professionals from the American Farm Bureau Federation and heard directly from consumers about their attitudes and perceptions of modern farming.
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Ohio SWCD supervisor recognized with national award

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) honored conservation leaders from across the country during the organization’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn. at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

The NACD along with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) “Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award” is presented annually to an individual, district or organization that has gone above and beyond in promoting conservation on private lands. This year’s award was presented by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting Chief Leonard Jordan to Kris Swartz, a Wood Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Supervisor.

Swartz is a fifth-generation farmer from Perrysburg, Ohio. He and his wife, Sue, operate a 2,000-acre farm in Wood County where they grow soybeans, corn and wheat. Swartz is the past president of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD). Under his leadership, Ohio became one of the leading states in adding Soil Health Champions to NACD’s Soil Health Champion Network. 

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Watters named International Certified Crop Adviser of the Year

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) recently announced that Harold D. Watters, Ohio State University has been named the International Certified Crop Adviser of the Year.

The annual award is presented for outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research.

An associate professor and field specialist, Watters works directly with agronomic crop producers, crop advisers and Extension educators to provide relevant information in a timely manner with emphasis on web and media outlets. Recruited as a team coordinator in 2004 for the OSU Agronomic Crops Team, Watters has influence on Ohio agronomic crop production education as co-coordinator of this 80-member team. Watters’ work is in the areas of agronomic crop production practices, systematic data evaluation and field research done locally to confirm best practices.

Watters serves as editorial coordinator of the Crop Observation and Recommendation Network (CORN) newsletter and is a regular OCJ contributor through his monthly CORN to go… page.

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Anthony Wayne High School agriculture teacher selected for national educator award

17-ATOTY-R4-W.ShortWhitney Short, agricultural educator at Anthony Wayne High School in Whitehouse, Ohio, is one of only six individuals nationwide who received the 2017 National Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award. The award was presented in December at the National Association of Agricultural Educators’ annual convention in Nashville.

The National Agriscience Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers who have inspired and enlightened their students through engaging and interactive lessons in the science of agriculture.

Although it is located at Anthony Wayne High School, the agriculture program is actually a satellite of the Penta Career Center. When Short realized that enrollment was declining, she renewed student interest by creating an agriculture biotechnology pathway. Through the new course of study, students have the opportunity to explore biotech in both animal and plant systems. The popularity of the new pathway has led Short to steadily increase science-based agriculture offerings at Anthony Wayne.

An integral piece of the agriculture program at Anthony Wayne is project-based learning.

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Morrow County teens attend National Youth Summit on Agri-Science in Washington, D.C.

In order to continue to fuel the discovery of new solutions and solve big challenges in human health, agriculture and food, it will be critical to cultivate the next generation of leaders in science. Emma Burchett, Jacob Kirkland, Jacob Serio, and Lucy Smith recently got their chance to hone their agri-science skills at the National Youth Summit on Agri-Science in Washington, D.C.

Amanda Forquer, OSU Extension 4-H Educator in Morrow County, escorted the youth to this four-day Summit which was held at the National 4-H Conference Center, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Nearly 250 youth were immersed in an agenda focused on a variety of agri-science topics relevant to agriculture including: soil health, animal biosecurity, agribusiness, drones, honey bees, and precision farming.

Attendees from across the country had the opportunity to build their science skills in more than 15 sessions led by a number of industry leaders and mentors.

“Because of the attendees being from so many different states I really enjoyed the diversity of everyone’s ideas.

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Jepsen to lead International Society of Agricultural Safety and Health

Dee Jepsen was recently named President of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH). Jepsen will serve on the Board of Directors for a two-year term through the summer of 2019.

ISASH is an organization dedicated to the professional development of agricultural safety and health professionals, providing national and international leadership in preventing agricultural injuries and illnesses to the agricultural community. ISASH provides opportunities for sharing information about research and intervention programs, improving professional skills and knowledge, networking and other supportive activities.

Dee Jepsen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University and State Leader for the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety & Health Program. Many of her efforts around the state have gained her a national reputation for leadership in community safety initiatives. She also is a regular OCJ contributor.

During her term, Jepsen hopes to foster additional international connections within the Society.

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S.I. Distributing hires new sales manager

S.I. Distributing welcomed Nathan Vandenbroek as the new sales manager.

Vandenbroek comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience within the industry. Nathan recently graduated from the Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER leadership training program. This program helps class members develop important skills necessary to becoming effective leaders and advocates, including spokesperson and media training, etiquette training, social networking, communications and more.

He hopes to use these skills and apply them to his success at S.I.

“I am excited to start a new position within S.I. Distributing and look forward to working with the team to further develop their already extensive product and service suite. I am fortunate to be joining such a respected company that prides itself on top quality service,” Vandenbroek said.

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Kasler joins Farm Bureau staff

Ashley Kasler of Athens has been named organization director for Ohio Farm Bureau. She will work with

leaders and members of the Athens-Meigs, Gallia and Lawrence County Farm Bureaus as they address issues important to members and their communities.

Kasler grew up on a crop and livestock farm in Highland County. She obtained an associate’s degree from OSU Agricultural Technical Instaitute and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University. She received both the State and American Farmer degrees from FFA. Prior to joining Farm Bureau, she was employed by Heimerl Farms and was active with the Athens-Meigs Farm Bureau as a board member.

She and her husband, Brent, farm with his family and are the parents of a young daughter. They attend Christ Community Wesleyan Church in Albany and are members of the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and American Angus Association.



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Perdue announces Farm Service Agency State Committee appointees

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Committee Appointees. State committees are selected by the Secretary, serve at the pleasure of the Secretary, and are responsible for carrying out FSA’s farm programs within delegated authorities.

“The State Committees will help to ensure USDA is providing our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers with the best customer service,” Secretary Perdue said. “They serve as a liaison between USDA and the producers in each state across the nation by keeping them informed and hearing their appeals and complaints. The committees are made up mostly of active farmers and ranchers, representing their peers and ensuring USDA’s programs are supporting the American harvest.”

For Ohio, the selections were:

• Committee Chair Trish Levering – Knox County

• Ronnie Clifton – Pickaway County

• Kim Davis – Carroll County

• Daryl Knipp – Sandusky County

• Joe Steiner – Warren County

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Ohio leaders taking on national soybean roles

Hancock County soybean farmer John Motter moved into the role of immediate-past Chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB) and Bret Davis of Delaware County was elected to the Governing Committee of the American Soybean Association (ASA).

Davis was elected during the December board meeting to the ASA Governing Committee. This committee is responsible for guiding ASA and implementing policies that align with the organization’s strategic plan. This is Davis’ third term on the nine-member leadership team.

This also marked the end Motter’s term as USB Chairman. Motter was elected exactly one year ago as the 26th chairman in the organization’s history and the first Ohioan to hold the position. During his tenure, Motter has led USB forward on multiple programs and strategic directions, as well as leading the search for a new CEO.

“The Ohio Soybean Association and Ohio Soybean Council are proud that such capable leaders have been able to serve our state and all U.S.

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Kettler named Indiana Director of Agriculture

Indiana’s Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch recently announced Bruce Kettler — an experienced member of

the agriculture community — will serve as the new director of Indiana State Department of Agriculture effective Jan. 8, 2018.

Kettler most recently operated as the director of public relations for Beck’s Hybrids, where he also was a field sales manager, area team leader and sales consultant over the course of the last 11 years. He began his career at Dow AgroSciences where he started out as a sales representative, and spanned his career through the company as a regional credit manager, advertising and communications manager and finished after being with the company for 17 years as a senior sales representative for pest management.

Kettler grew up in Ohio and was an Anna FFA member elected in 1982 to National FFA office. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from The Ohio State University, resides in Westfield, Ind.

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Dotterer appointed to United Soybean Board

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of 19 members and 3 alternate members to serve on the United Soybean Board. The producers from around the country appointed to serve three-year terms included Dave Dotterer from Rittman, Ohio.

“I truly appreciate the time and expertise that these individuals have agreed to provide, and know U.S. soybean producers will be well served by these men and women,” Perdue said.

The board is composed of 73 members representing 29 states and Eastern and Western regions. To become a member, you must be a soybean producer and be nominated by a qualified state soybean board. The board is authorized by the Soybean Promotion, Research, and Information Act.

It became effective July 9, 1991, when the Soybean Promotion and Research Order was implemented. Since 1966, Congress has authorized the establishment of 22 industry-funded research and promotion boards.  They empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. 

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Bane-Welker hires a new salesman

Bane-Welker Equipment is proud to introduce George Wilson to the Eaton sales team.

George will be covering counties in extreme western Ohio and eastern Indiana. He has been working as a leasing agent and consultant in those same areas. George has 17 years of experience in the ag equipment business, having worked for Smith Implements in Greenfield, Ind.

Prior to working for John Deere, George was a loan officer with Farm Credit Services in Muncie, Ind. George, his wife Stephanie, and their daughter Abby live in rural Henry County, outside Middletown, Ind. George is an avid sports fan and is a big Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Blackhawks backer. He loves to power walk and has done 35 half marathons and one full marathon since 2005. George is a Purdue graduate and enjoys going to Boilermaker football and basketball games.

George will represent the following brands at Bane-Welker in Eaton (Case IH, Ashland Industries, Dixie Chopper, J&M, Kuhn, Land Pride, MacDon, Unverferth and Woods) at 1980 US Route 35 East.

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Perdue announces Farm Service Agency and Rural Development state directors

In early November U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) State Directors, all serving as appointees of President Donald J. Trump. These FSA State Directors help implement U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies in planning, organizing, and administering FSA programs in their respective states. They are also responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the state FSA office. Similarly, RD State Directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.

“These state directors will help ensure that USDA is offering the best customer service to our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers across the country,” Secretary Perdue said. “FSA and RD both play a critical role in helping the people of agriculture, and are able to connect with people in their home states. They are the initial points of contact for millions of our USDA customers.

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Burch completes Farm Bureau communications program

Danielle Burch of Salem, president of the Columbiana County Farm Bureau, is one of 15 national farm and ranch leaders honored as graduates of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 11th annual Women’s Communications Boot Camp. The group was recognized after completing an intensive three-day course featuring sessions on working with the media, public speaking, testifying and messaging.

“Women’s Communication Boot Camp is the experience of a lifetime,” said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona row crop farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. “Graduates of this program are persuasive and effective advocates for agriculture, with a passion for connecting with influencers at the local, state and national levels.”

Burch, who won Ohio Farm Bureau’s 2017 Discussion Meet competition, is also a county action team leader and served on the OFBF Young Ag Professionals State Committee from 2013-2016. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science and history at the University of Mount Union and master’s degree in education at St.

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Ohio’s Senate Ag Committee Chair Cliff Hite resigns

Early this week, State Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, resigned, effective immediately.

Hite represented Ohio’s 1st Senate District since early 2011.

In his resignation letter, Hite cited “personal health” issues as a reason for his departure.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve my constituents and the people of Ohio. I look forward to focusing on my personal health and spending more time with my family,” Hite wrote.

Hite was serving in his third General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate, representing the 1st Senate District, which encompasses an 11 county region of Northwest Ohio including all or part of Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams Counties. Prior to his appointment to the Senate, Hite served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives.

For the fourth time during his tenure in the Senate, Hite presided as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture.

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