Four Ohioans who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community were honored Friday, Aug. 4, by the Ohio Agricultural Council, when they are inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees were Dwight B. Beougher of Westerville, James J. Buchy of Greenville, Opal Holfinger of Troy, and Virgil L. Strickler of Lakeview.
Induction took place in the Cardinal Hall on the fairgrounds, which opened in 2016 and features an expanded Hall of Fame display and salute to Ohio’s agriculture community. The following four inductees join 221 prior recipients named since 1966 when the program began.
Dwight B. Beougher
Dwight Beougher has dedicated his life to serving the U.S. feed industry and agriculture. His career in product sales began with 20 years at a major research and animal feed manufacturer, where he especially enjoyed teaching dealers and employees good manufacturing practices and animal husbandry. Later, he and his wife created a successful retail feed and farm supply business in central Ohio and were recognized nationally for their turn-around strategies. Beougher served as chairman of the Ohio Feed & Grain Dealer’s Association’s Feed Committee where he headed up rewriting the “Ohio Feed Law.”
Combining his love of agriculture, education and communication, Beougher now retired, has been instrumental in many programs as president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau. He continues to engage and share the story about his favorite subject – agriculture.
James J. Buchy
James “Jim” Buchy is valued as a true statesman and a selfless leader who has served the state and agriculture in many ways. Buchy grew up in Greenville, Ohio, working in and later owning his family’s meat packing plant as the fifth generation. Called to public service, he served in the Ohio House of Representatives for 22 years and later as an assistant director in the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Serving on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee during his Ohio House tenure, Bucky assisted other legislators in understanding agriculture, worked to create a favorable business environment in the state, protected the environment; all while pushing the agricultural industry for continual improvement and growth. Buchy’s work also invested in the youth of Ohio through legislation that brought 4-H and FFA programs to students in urban areas.
Opal Holfinger has shared her quiet leadership for the betterment of Ohio agriculture and the state of Ohio through thousands of volunteer hours. For more than five and a half decades, Holfinger and her late husband, Carl, fed cattle in Miami County. As a staunch advocate of Ohio’s beef industry, she served on the Ohio Beef Council Operating Committee from 1988-1996, helping shape the state’s beef council in the very early years of the national beef checkoff program. She also served in many capacities for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Ohio Cattle Women, and the Miami County Cattlemen’s Association.
Holfinger’s service extended into board leadership for 15 years and as treasurer of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Miami County Planning Commission and Zoning Board, Ohio Bicentennial Board and the Ohio Expositions Commission.
Virgil L. Strickler
Virgil Strickler has a lifetime of experience in the agricultural industry and serves as the longest-running general manager in the history of the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair. Raised on a farm in Fairfield County, Strickler began his career as an agricultural lender. In 1993, he was named livestock and agriculture director of the Ohio State Fair, and Strickler also has served since 2004 as the general manager.
Strickler has been passionate about supporting and educating Ohio’s youth about agriculture, as demonstrated through the 4th grade Ag is Cool program and the Youth Reserve Program for livestock participants, which created a multimillion dollar scholarship program. Strickler has created one of the top fairs in the nation, allowing the public to better connect with the No. 1 industry in Ohio.
The Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame induction annually attracts more than 500 guests to honor the Ohio agricultural community and the select inductees dedicated to Ohio’s largest industry.