By day, Lucas County Farm Bureau member Heather Fox is a customer service coordinator for Lullaby Lane baby boutique. But in most of her other waking hours she is a woman to be reckoned with for Lucas County Farm Bureau. Her most recent feat was planning the county’s first ever Farm to Plate: a Food Dialogue event at the Toledo Zoo. The dinner featuring locally grown products was followed by a panel discussion that gave attendees a better understanding of how food gets from the field to our tables.
“I could not be more pleased with the turnout—250 in attendance. I met many of our members, community leaders and contributors to the Lucas County agriculture community. I would definitely say I believe everyone needs to know where food comes from and how it’s produced. That falls along with Farm Bureau’s mission in creating the partnership with consumers,” she said.
She also has her hands in the Lucas County Fair, with Imagination Station in Toledo, Lucas County Farm Bureau social media and 4-H and FFA alumni.
Heather grew up in an agricultural family in Lucas County. Like many rural kids, she participated in 4-H but she became less engaged as she got older, even to the point of not wanting to be involved with agriculture at all. “My first year out of 4-H, I was listening to things parents were saying to their kids at the fair…Hearing incorrect information they were sharing, and it pushed me to realize there is a need for education within our community.”
This launched Heather’s passion for agricultural education for all ages. Her involvement started off small, as she says, as 4-H adviser, then livestock adviser at the fair and then four years ago she took over the Ag on Display baby animal barn at the Lucas County Fair. She admits in her first year with the barn she was in over her head, but it was the best experience, “And I do it year after year and think about it all year.”
Heather was introduced to Farm Bureau through her dad Rich who had served on the county board of trustees. Fellow members Lonnie and Tracy Perry approached her about running for the board, and her first true involvement with Farm Bureau happened when she worked with the office interns at the baby animal barn at the fair. “The Perrys sat down with me and said ‘You could make a difference and huge impact if you run for the board,’ ” she recalled. She joined the board in August 2013.
“I’m 28 and if you told my 18-year-old-self that I’d be talking to you (for a magazine interview), I would have laughed at you,” she said. But living in an urban county, yet having farming connections in her family have made her an asset. For example, she was able to get a pig, boer goats, hatching chicks and rabbits on display for Toledo’s Imagination Station’s 2012 Farm Fest. She educated the staff on how to care for the animals and provided agricultural information. She said she spent several weeks planning and helping facilitate meetings with other ag-related organizations in the community to join in the event.
“I never realized how passionate I was and how much I cared. Imagination Station is a large venue to promote agriculture. After that exhibit, I was getting calls left and right,” she said. Working with the support of Farm Bureau, she said the doors have opened tenfold, plus she has a good relationship with the county OSU Extension office.
It was Extension that recommended her to the Toledo Zoo to coordinate children’s activities at the zoo’s first Garden Show. That connection led to the zoo being the location of the Farm to Plate: A Food Dialogue event.
She acknowledges the support the county Farm Bureau gives to these projects and events, specifically Bill Myers, Wade Smith, Keith Hannewald, Jeff Navarre, Jake Heilmann, Brian Petrell, Doug Ronau and the Perrys who help her with event setup, moving livestock and equipment for the various events, brainstorming and working on budgets. “I’m blessed to serve with the rest of the board.
“Farm Bureau definitely has the resources and information I need to provide the best information to consumers. I look back at what Farm Bureau did for my family and how long it’s been around advocating for farmers. My dad wouldn’t have a job or my parents ever met. Farm Bureau has been there and stood the test of time and is the voice of agriculture. To be a part of an organization that is so passionate and members who care, you don’t find that a lot of places,” she said.
Like Lucas County Farm Bureau on Facebook to keep up with county activities.
Ohio Farm and Food Forum Dec. 10
The second annual Ohio Farm and Food Leadership Forum will take place in Columbus Dec. 10.
Attendees will have the opportunity to attend specialized learning tracks on leadership development, community development, technology in agriculture and current issues.
Dr. Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, will be the keynote speaker. Catlett has authored numerous books and articles and works nationally and internationally with corporations and organizations on future planning.
The forum is open to current and emerging leaders from a wide range of organizations.
Contact Chip Nelson, 614-246-8237 for more information.