Get dirty, but not fenced in

OFBF President Frank Burkett was keynote speaker for Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute commencement May 6. This article was published in The Daily Record May 7, 2017 and is posted here with permission.

WOOSTER — Graduation season kicked off at Fisher Auditorium, where more than 200 students from The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute received their diplomas during the 44th commencement.

And as Jon Witter, assistant professor of agricultural and engineering technologies, told the graduates in his faculty challenge, “People know less about our chosen profession” than they probably should.

“Let them know the joy you get when they buy the plants you grow,” Witter said, as it applies to their chosen field.

The student address was given by Marissa Engle, who graduated with a double major in agronomy and agricultural business. She implored her classmates to keep their boots in mind, whether it be the boots worn at family farms, ones during class at ATI or the boots they will wear in the future.

“Today, our boots will carry us in different directions,” Engle said, while some may even turn their boots in for a pair of high heels. But others may feel “most comfortable in the worn-out pair who made us who we are today.”

Keynote speaker Frank Burkett, who is president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, offered advice from a farmer to future farmers in the ways they can best relate — through farming metaphors.

“Not everything that comes from a cow is as white or clean as milk,” Burkett said, eliciting laughs from the audience. “Life is dirty … and our most successful days come when we are covered head to toe in filth.”

He also reminded the students “growth happens in some of the darkest places,” and reminded them that “in order to raise a good crop, you need to destroy the weeds.”

Burkett implored the students to be inclusive when he said “cows live in herds and people thrive in groups.”

And sticking with the cow theme, Burkett said “sometimes in life you have to mend the fence” and reminded them “the fence rows are meant to contain the cows, not you.”

Reporter Steven F. Huszai can be reached at 330-287-1645 or [email protected].

Photo credit: Frances Whited, ATI