The Gallia County Farm Bureau recently received a national award that recognizes it for community involvement and local activities — an award in which only 24 counties in the United States receive each year.
The bureau received a County Activities of Excellence Award in the 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation, and is one of six counties in Ohio to win. Other CAE winning Ohio counties are Champaign, Franklin, Knox, Muskingum and Tuscarawas county farm bureaus.
Specifically, the CEA program focuses on county efforts in education and agricultural promotion, and identifies programs that display the value of community and volunteers working together and serve as models of innovation for local activities.
The Gallia County Farm Bureau was recognized for its annual Agricultural Awareness Day, a free field trip for all fourth-graders in county and city schools. At the event, local farm bureau members and volunteer exhibitors provided hands-on educational presentations about agriculture for students.
Kim Harless, organization director who oversees multiple county farm bureau’s in Ohio, said Gallia’s community support for Ag Day is what makes the county’s event stand out from others.
“There’s a lot of counties that do Ag Days. Four of my own counties do them, and two other ones applied for this same award,” she said. “I think what makes Gallia County unique is that the community really gets behind it.”
Many community sponsors helped to make Gallia’s Ag Awareness Day 2014 possible such as: American Electric Power, Holzer Helath System, Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative, Crown Excavating and Stone Yard, Ohio Valley Bank, Farm Credit Services, Advanced Hearing Solutions, SFS Truck Sales, S &M Tax and Accounting, Ohio Valley Electric Corp., State Rep. Ryan Smith, Eastman’s Foodland, Farmer’s Bank, Brown Brother’s Agency Inc., Foster Sales & Delivery Inc., Zach and Scotty’s Subs, Family Oxygen and Medical Equipment, Feed Stop and Pepsi.
Some students also served as volunteer guides to assist teachers and students at Ag Day, such as the River Valley Academy and South Gallia FFA class.
Harless said about 85 FFA students total and 60 volunteers helped out with this year’s Ag Day.
“It’s definitely a joint effort,” she said.
Additionally, before Ag Day, students drew a picture of what agriculture meant to them as part of a “Design Your T-shirt Contest,” and the winning design was featured on free t-shirts for students.Ag Day 2014 T-shirt contest winners were: Cody Wooten of Addaville Elementary (first place,) Montana Jennings of Addaville Elementary (second place,) Devin Siders of Hannan Trace Elementary (third place,) James Hall of Vinton Elementary (fourth place,) Aislynn Bostic of Addaville Elementary (fifth place,) Brianna Bradbury of Vinton Elementary (sixth place) and Kyla Craycraft of Vinton Elementary, (honorable mention.
)Paul Shoemaker, Gallia County Farm Bureau member and president at the time of Agriculture Awareness Day 2014, said he’s proud of the volunteers and the bureau’s efforts to pull together and make the event possible for students.“I just feel that it’s an honor that we were chosen as an outstanding group to be doing this. It’s national, it’s not just local,” he said. “I am proud of what we do, because there’s about 400 kids that benefit from it (Ag Day.)”
Katie Shoemaker, Ag Day coordinator, said bringing students together from throughout the county to learn about agriculture is what makes Ag Day effective.“I am proud that we won this award. We’ve never had it before. We bring the county and the city school’s fourth-graders together and they learn a lot more about farming, how farming is done, what it means to the children and what they get out of it,” she said. “Togetherness is the whole thing. That’s what it’s all about … bringing the whole county of fourth-graders together.”
CEA winners will display their 2014 programs at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention and IDEA Ag Trade Show in San Diego in January. They will also receive a $2,250 stipend to apply toward travel and exhibition costs.
The Gallia Farm Bureau is already brainstorming ideas for innovative programs that can be done in other counties or states for the upcoming program year, which starts in December, Harless said.“We’re looking at doing an ag plastic program, where you collect plastic bags that are for wrapping hay and anything in general, because that can be recycled.”