Four finalists have been named in Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Discussion Meet. They are Casey Ellington of Louisville, Jacob Hoelscher of Osgood, Seth Middleton of Sidney and Annie Specht of Columbus.

The annual contest tests participants’ subject knowledge, problem solving abilities and personal and small group communications skills. These young agricultural professionals will compete in the finals at the Young Agricultural Professionals’ Leadership Experience at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus Feb. 2 and 3.

The finalists were named after a preliminary competition at Ohio Farm Bureau’s 99th Annual Meeting in Columbus where they discussed topics impacting the agriculture industry.

“The Discussion Meet contest is a meaningful opportunity for young ag professionals to strengthen their skills in working together to solve issues facing agriculture today. I look forward to watching these finalists compete at the finals in February,” said OFBF Young Agricultural Professionals Coordinator Melinda Witten.

The winner receives a $1,000 cash award from Nationwide Insurance, an expense-paid trip to the 2018 OFBF Annual Meeting Dec. 5-7 in Columbus and an expense-paid trip to the AFBF Annual Convention in January 2019 in New Orleans.

Ellington, a Stark County Farm Bureau member, is a member of Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER leadership program Class IX and a member of Young Ag Professionals. She is the Stark County Cattlemen’s director and a farm tour and fair volunteer in the county. She and her husband, Charles, farm with their families raising beef, pork, chicken and hay at Ellington Farms and also at Southern Star Farms, a small dairy. Ellington is a graduate of Eastern Brown High School and attended Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute. The Ellingtons have two children.

Hoelscher, a Darke County Farm Bureau member, also serves as a Patterson Township Trustee. He and his wife, Ellen, run a small row crop farm, along with 1,500 contract hogs and a farm equipment rental business. Hoelscher is also a farm insurance agent. He is a graduate of Versailles High School and earned a degree in atmospheric science at Ohio State University. The Hoelschers have one son.

Middleton, a Shelby County Farm Bureau board member, serves as treasurer of his county Farm Bureau. His is also involved in AgriPOWER and OFBF’s Young Ag Professionals program. He and his wife, Britnie, run a 500-acre corn and soybean farm. He is also an agribusiness lender at Heartland Bank. Middleton is a graduate of Fairlawn Local Schools and has a bachelor’s degree in financial management from Franklin University. The Middletons have two children.

Specht, a Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau member, is an assistant professor of agricultural communication at Ohio State University. She is a member of the American Association for Agricultural Education, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and the Association for Communications Excellence. Specht is a graduate of Dover High School. She earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in agricultural and Extension education at Ohio State University. She then completed her doctorate in agricultural leadership, education and communications at Texas A&M University.

The Discussion Meet is hosted by OFBF’s Young Agricultural Professionals – singles and married couples ages 18 to 35 who are interested in improving the business of agriculture, learning new ideas and developing leadership skills. Learn more about the Young Ag Professionals program at

This is a news release for use by journalists. Questions should be directed to Joe Cornely614-246-8230.


A high resolution photo of Casey Ellington is available to accompany this story.

A high resolution photo of Jacob Hoelscher is available to accompany this story.

A high resolution photo of Seth Middleton is available to accompany this story.

A high resolution photo of Annie Specht is available to accompany this story.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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