Seven of the nation’s top 24 county Farm Bureau programs came from Ohio this year. Every year American Farm Bureau Federation recognizes the top county Farm Bureau programs through its County Activities of Excellence awards. The CAE contest identifies programs that serve as models of innovation for local activities and showcase the value of volunteers working together to build and strengthen their communities. This year’s contest drew 152 entries nationwide with 26 from Ohio.
Thanks to volunteer support and the financial support of members, nine western county Farm Bureaus (Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Shelby and Union) joined their resources to purchase a life-size fiberglass milk cow and won in the education and ag promotion category for their Life of a Cow program. The cow “Elsa” has visited more than 60 events in 1 ½ years and has helped both dispel food myths and teach young and old alike about their food.
Other winning counties are Fulton, Athens-Meigs, Clermont, Medina, Pike and Knox. The county Farm Bureaus competed along with Farm Bureaus of similar membership size in one of three categories: education and ag promotion, member services and public relations and information.
“Once again, Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus have shown they have outstanding programs and know what types of activities resonate with both farmers and consumers and make a real impact in their communities. Last year Ohio had six county Farm Bureaus win and it’s exciting that Ohio was able to top that number this year,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher.
Each Ohio winner will receive a $2,250 stipend to use toward travel and exhibition costs at American Farm Bureau’s annual convention where they will display their programs during the IDEAg Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. The winners also will participate in Ohio Farm Bureau’s Community Showcase durings its annual meeting in December.
Other county programs:
Athens-Meigs County Farm Bureau won in the education and ag promotion category for its Ag Awareness Day, which brought 600 fourth-graders to the Athens County Fairgrounds for a hands-on learning experience that connected them to farmers, food and nature. Event partners included FFA, county Extension, county Soil and Water Conservation District, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and local farmers and ag organizations. A food drive resulted in 500 pounds of food donated to a food pantry.
Clermont County Farm Bureau’s public relations and information award was for its Thanksgiving Food Basket Giveaway. The county Farm Bureau worked with the Wild Turkey Federation, 4-H clubs, YWCA and elected officials on the ninth annual event, which provides a Thanksgiving food basket for those in need. Farm Bureau helped organize the event, purchase the food and distribute the baskets. Last year about 30 volunteers helped distribute more than 500 baskets, reaching over 3,000 individuals.
Fulton County Farm Bureau was honored in the education and ag promotion category for its Breakfast on the Farm event. More than 3,500 visitors enjoyed a free breakfast on a local dairy to learn more about modern food production practices and introduce them to farm families. Participants visited 17 agriculture education stations, and data collected after the event showed the program had a significant impact in changing people’s opinions on food safety, water quality and animal welfare.
Medina County Farm Bureau’s education and ag promotion award was for its Family Agriculture Education Tents, which were set up during the county fair. They were filled with hands-on activities about farming practices and food safety, including a trivia contest, an artificial milking cow, a petting zoo and educational kiosks for all ages. Members from a different farm family each day of the fair explained their farming operations and answered questions for fairgoers.
Pike County Farm Bureau won in the member services category for its innovative member services program Farm”er”tainment Ag Tour. The goal of this first-year event was to increase attendance at the county Farm Bureau’s annual meeting as well as invite non-members to two ag tours to introduce them to Farm Bureau. The annual meeting and entertainment were held after the second tour at a family friendly venue. The event tripled annual meeting attendance.
Knox County Farm Bureau won in the member services category for its Nutrient Management Record Keeper. The Farm Bureau and the local Soil and Water Conservation District came up with the idea for a free mobile app that will help farmers comply with two new state laws (Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 150). Over $30,000 in grant money was awarded through Ohio Farm Bureau’s County Water Quality Initiative Program, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio State University Extension, and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to accomplish this project. The app will be available soon to farmers statewide.
To learn more about county Farm Bureau activities, visit ofbf.org/counties.