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Commitment to community: Your membership supports these community investments

Having members come together to make a difference has long been the cornerstone of Ohio Farm Bureau. Nowhere is that more evident than in county Farm Bureau programming. Last year volunteers dedicated thousands of hours to community projects that ranged from improving water quality to collecting food and money for the needy to raising awareness about gun safety. County Farm Bureaus partnered with dozens of groups to identify ways to improve their communities and make a measurable impact.

Your membership dollars helped make these projects a reality. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership funds went into community programming in direct support to these programs with partnering organizations kicking in matching funds. For example, Ohio Farm Bureau provided $200,000 just for water quality efforts across the state last year, with partnering groups contributing more than $250,000.

This year about $140,000 was raised throughout the state for various community organizations through county projects, events and partnerships. The diversity and depth of county programming was so impressive that Ohio Farm Bureau was recognized nationally. Every year American Farm Bureau recognizes the top 24 county Farm Bureaus through its County Activities of Excellence awards. Last year Ohio received an impressive eight awards in the contest, which 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.

millersport1Ashland, Holmes and Wayne counties, Grain Bin Rescue Tubes*: Three county Farm Bureaus partnered with a local Nationwide agency to purchase 11 grain bin rescue tubes for volunteer fire departments. Ohio State University provided training for rescue personnel, including those who didn’t receive a rescue tube. The project resulted in strong approval from other community groups and invitations for Farm Bureau volunteers to speak about agriculture and the rescue tubes.

Auglaize County, Agriculture in Your Backyard: Getting into classrooms to give kids an up close and personal look at agriculture was the goal of this educational program. More than 700 students and all five county FFA chapters participated. Volunteers were active participants in agriculture-related school projects, provided virtual and live farm tours to classrooms and engaged students in activities that taught them about their food and how it is grown.

Cuyahoga County, Stream Protection: The county Farm Bureau teamed up with the local Soil & Water Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to put in a heavy use pad for animals at Stearns Homestead, an educational and historical farm in Parma. A heavy use pad is a pollution prevention practice that prevents sediment from getting into nearby streams.

Delaware County, PrintBenefit in the Barn*: Nearly 700 people enjoyed a meal, beverages and concert by the Central Ohio Symphony on the property of a Farm Bureau member. The county Farm Bureau organized the event, which had two dozen sponsors and raised $30,150 for Delaware County Hunger Alliance programs. During the event, “surprise” $1,000 grants were awarded to the Delaware County Agricultural Society, Ohio 4-H Foundation, Ohio FFA Foundation and Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation.

Franklin County, COSI Farm Days: About 25 volunteers bring the farm to downtown Columbus each year at COSI’s popular Farm Days. The purpose of the four-day event is to share knowledge about modern agriculture with thousands of students and young children through equipment displays. This year a record crowd of 18,000 attended.

Guernsey County, Tree Inventory and Health Evaluation Survey: This program educated urban residents about how to identify the environmental and fiscal value of the trees in their community. More than 20 volunteers worked in conjunction with the county’s master gardeners to inventory and conduct health evaluations of all lawn trees. Word spread about the project via 2,300 brochures and presentations to local civic organizations.

Hamilton County, Drones*: The county Farm Bureau worked to correct and update Farm Bureau policies on unmanned aircraft systems (also known as drones). Working year-round, volunteers reached out to aviation experts, met with Federal Aviation Administration staff, interviewed regional airport managers and attended a half-day program on drones. These actions resulted in the successful adoption of new state and national Farm Bureau policies on drones.

Jackson and Vinton counties, Agriculture Experience Day*: About 600 second-grade students visited a farm for a fun-filled day that connected them with farmers and food. The students rotated through 17 hands-on educational stations. Students collected about 400 pounds of food for a local food pantry. They also competed in a contest for the best design of a T-shirt depicting what agriculture means to them, and each student received a free shirt.

Jefferson County, county1Agriculture Merit Badge Day and Cubby Camp*: The county Farm Bureau helped 40 Boy Scouts earn merit badges by connecting them with experts in the fields of surveying, soil and water conservation, ag mechanics and veterinary science. An Ag Day took place at the same location for Cub Scouts where they learned about farm animals, lawn tractor and ATV safety. More than 80 families were introduced to Farm Bureau.

Lawrence County, Drive-It-Yourself Ag Tours Galore*: More than 450 people attended this first ever drive-it-yourself tour in the county. The county Farm Bureau partnered with the local Extension, 4-H and Soil and Water Conservation District on the tour. Five Farm Bureau families opened their farms and businesses to the public so consumers could learn more about agriculture.

Licking County, A Healthier Septic System: Still in the planning stages, this pilot program will help identify and replace faulty aerator motors in home septic systems in areas with potential water quality issues. It also will educate landowners about the importance of maintaining their aerator system and the implications of a faulty system.

Marion County, Farm to Family: At cooking demonstrations at food pantries, schools and outreach centers, families were taught to prepare affordable and nutritious food for their families through this ongoing program. Corn from a 1-acre sweet corn patch planted at the YMCA also was donated to local food pantries. More than 100 families participated in the program in 2016, which also included the tools needed to prepare food at home such as slow cookers, electric skillets and other kitchen items.

Medina County, fun-factsAg Fact Ads*: Residents learned more about what commodity was currently being harvested or planted through a series of ads. The county Farm Bureau had a colorful ad printed every month in a free newspaper that featured easy-to-read facts and interesting trivia to connect readers with what they were seeing on farms during their daily commutes.

Mercer County, Hoof it for Agriculture: County fair visitors learned all about agriculture in a series of fun, hands-on events that included a scavenger hunt. More than 500 people participated in this annual program, which included T-shirts for 4-H and FFA participants.

Trumbull County, Book Barn Library Project: With the help of 20 volunteers, barn-shaped bookcases were built and displayed at local schools and libraries in the county. These bookcases were filled with agriculture-related books to provide reliable and educational adventures about agriculture through literacy. The “Where’s the Barn?” initiative is an on-going project with the bookcases being on display at different locations throughout the county.

Tuscarawas County, Harvest for Hospice*: This sold-out event on a Farm Bureau member’s farm raised $26,000 for Community Hospice. Farmers and local businesses donated food and other items for the farm-to-plate meal and auction. A video shown during the meal prepared by a well-known chef featured local Farm Bureau members talking about their farms and the importance of agriculture in the area.

Union County, Shooting for the Cure: This event raised awareness of agriculture, conservation and gun safety for women in the county. The one-day program taught women the basics about firearms and archery while also raising money for cancer research. Thirty people participated in this first-time event, raising $750 for Ohio Farm Bureau’s Cultivating a Cure endeavor, which annually raises money for cancer treatment and prevention at Ohio State University.

*American Farm Bureau County Activities of Excellence award winner

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Amy Graves 

Amy Graves is a freelance writer from Franklin County.