Veteran Leaders Recognized At Farm Bureau Convention

For Immediate Release

December 6, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio (OFBF) – Six individuals were honored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) for their lifelong contributions to agriculture.

Distinguished Service Awards were presented to agriculturalists Earl Gerdeman, Patricia Leimbach and Tom Schlenker. The Cooperative/Agricultural Educator Award was presented to Dr. Monte Anderson. The Agricultural Communicator Award was given to Gary Jackson. The first ever Ezra C. Anstaett Heritage Award was presented to Nationwide Board Chairman Keith Eckel.

The awards recognize the outstanding careers of individuals who have contributed to agriculture, their communities and Ohio Farm Bureau. The new Ezra C. Anstaett Heritage Award recognizes partners and collaborators who help Ohio Farm Bureau achieve its mission of forging a partnership between farmers and consumers. It’s named after the first policyholder of Ohio Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, which later became Nationwide Insurance.

Gerdeman taught agricultural education for 35 years, primarily at Lincolnview High School in Van Wert county. He also mentored young farmer and adult farmer organizations. He was a recipient of the American FFA Degree, was named Outstanding Agriculture Teacher for the state of Ohio and is a past Ambassador Club member for Ohio Farm Bureau, meaning he signed 10 or more new members in one year. He also has been active with the county’s hospital governance board, the local electric cooperative and his county Farm Bureau.

Leimbach, whose award was presented posthumously, was best known as an author and speaker who drew attention to farmers and the rural lifestyle. Her “Country Wife” articles and other essays were syndicated nationally and she was the author of three books. She spoke at farm events in 48 states and in Canada. Leimbach was a founding member of American Agri-Women and its Ohio affiliate. She won numerous awards including induction into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Schlenker began his career as an OSU Extension agent but spent the majority of his professional life within the Farm Credit system, first as an account officer for the Federal Land Bank and retiring as executive vice president of Farm Credit Mid-America. He served on numerous boards including Ohio Livestock Coalition, Ohio Ag Council, Animals for Life Foundation, and 4-H Foundation. He also provided leadership to many national cooperative organizations and is the winner of multiple industry achievement awards.

Anderson has been a professor and director of the agriculture department at Wilmington College since 1985. Along with administrative duties he teaches agricultural education, horticulture and agronomy. He founded a community initiative to increase access to local produce. He serves on the Clinton County OSU Extension Advisory Board, is a member of Phi Delta Kappa Honorary Society, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and is on the Ohio FFA Foundation Board.

Jackson is a long-time farm broadcaster. He served in the farm departments at WRFD, WIMA, the Agri Broadcasting Network (ABN) and delivered daily livestock market broadcasts when he was information director for Producers Livestock Association. He currently appears on the television program In Ohio Country Today. He’s contributed to many farm group committees and has been honored by farm organizations, OSU Extension, United States Department of Agriculture and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

Eckel owns a family farm in Pennsylvania where they raise tomatoes, sweet corn, pumpkins, wheat and field corn. He is chairman of the board for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, a trustee for Pennsylvania State University, past president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, past board member and executive council member for the American Farm Bureau Federation and has held numerous other farm and community leadership positions. He has received numerous service awards from state and national groups.

Nominations for the awards are made by county Farm Bureaus and individual members. This year’s awards were presented during the 95th annual meeting of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in Columbus Dec. 4 – 6.

High resolution photos of the award winners are available to accompany this story. To download go to


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