By Steve Brunner, AgriPOWER Class IX participant
AGRIPOWER Class IX was back in Columbus at the Farm Bureau offices where it all began for us back in July. After three sessions, it was a little different feeling walking into a room full of friends than the first time we met when most of us were strangers. The quietness of that July room was now filled with conversations of “is your harvest finished,” “were the crops any good” and “how have you and your family been?”
Our Session 4 agenda centered around state politics, lobbying, legal matters and our personal matters, along with Ohio Farm Bureau’s role in them. We started the day with a presentation by Tony Seegers on civics followed by briefings on state issues. Then we were off to the Statehouse to meet with our local state senator or state representative based on their availability.
The afternoon session started with a chance to meet and ask questions with Craig Butler, director of the Ohio EPA. He spoke about his agency and what they do along with answering questions about the Ohio EPA. We were on the move again after that traveling to the Ohio Supreme Court building where we were given a wonderful tour of the building and then had a chance to be addressed by Supreme Court Justice Judith French. She explained the roles and responsibilities of the Supreme Court.
Dinner was family style italian and conversations, jokes and good times were shared following dinner we returned to a suite at the hotel, which had provided to give us a place to all meet, relax, unwind and enjoy each other’s company.
Day two started with breakfast and a lesson in lobbying provided by Yvonne Lesicko, VP of policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau. We then had the opportunity to hear Leah Curtis, OFBF director of agricultural law discuss the legal matters that affect Ohio agriculture and the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Tom Niehaus, former president of the Ohio Senate, gave us a presentation on the life of an Ohio politician both while working in the Statehouse and while at home in their districts and what needs to be done to be a successful representative. We rounded out the morning with Lyndsey Murphy talking to us about her ag based businesses: catering, cooking school and market/event center “the HIVE” in Mechanicsburg where her and her family use their own farm grown ingredients in their recipes and catering.
After lunch we left the OFBF offices and headed to Reynoldsburg to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. There we met with ODA Director Daniels and his staff where we received an overview of what they do there followed by a tour of the facilities they have.
This wrapped up session 4 until we meet again in January. I find the topics and events scheduled in these AGRIPOWER courses are very interesting and although our agenda is always packed full, it is an enjoyable time where 23 people who have very diverse backgrounds are coming together to become better leaders and advocates for Ohio Agriculture and becoming good friends along the way.