For Addie Shupert, getting a Youth Beekeeper Scholarship was the bee’s knees. The 13-year-old was leafing through a 4-H newsletter when she noticed the scholarship offered by the Adams County Beekeepers Association and Adams County Farm Bureau. Intrigued, she applied and before she knew it, she had a bee hive set up in her backyard in West Union and a mentor to help her take care of the honey bees. Ask the 8th grader what she’s learned about honey bees and she rattles off a flurry of facts. That’s music to the ears of Kenny Moles, president of the county beekeepers association.
“We’d been looking for ways to get more young people interested in beekeeping and asked Farm Bureau if they would be interested in sponsoring some young kids,” Moles said. “The program has been very successful and everybody is just beside themselves on how well the money (provided by Adams County Farm Bureau) has been used to help young beekeepers and spread awareness about the importance of bees.”
Investing in young people and communities has long been a core mission of Ohio Farm Bureau. Every year membership dues help support local programming created and implemented by county Farm Bureaus with the help of a wide array of partners. The statistics are impressive: last year alone, more than 400 programs were implemented with the help of dozens of partnering organizations. County Farm Bureaus focused on identifying what type of programming would strengthen their communities as well as promote the importance of agriculture, the state’s largest industry. Community projects ranged from drug addiction awareness to conservation/agriculture education to food pantry fundraisers.
“The Farm Bureau is an indispensable partner to the college’s work. With their fingers on the current pulse and trends in the agricultural sector, they keep the university and the legislature apprised of challenges and opportunities.” — Bruce McPheron, executive vice president and provost at Ohio State University, in a 2017 interview in Columbus CEO Magazine.
Some of last year’s county Farm Bureau programming drew national accolades. Every year, American Farm Bureau recognizes the top 24 county Farm Bureaus in the nation with its County Activities of Excellence awards. Last year Ohio Farm Bureau had seven awards (the youth beekeeper scholarship program was one of the winners), more than any other state.
Water quality has been a special focus of Ohio Farm Bureau since September 2014, when the organization launched its Water Quality Action Plan. To date, more than $2.3 million of member dues have been invested in programming aimed at improving the state’s water quality. For the past three years, county Farm Bureaus have had water quality projects funded, with a total investment of more than $1 million by Ohio Farm Bureau and partnering groups. A year ago, Gallia Soil & Water Conservation District honored Gallia County Farm Bureau and Ohio Farm Bureau with its Distinguished Service Award for helping purchase a no-till drill that farmers can use to put in cover crops, which help improve soil quality and reduce nutrient runoff. “They have always supported our district and are always willing to lend a helping hand,” Gallia SWCD Administrator Nick Mills said of Farm Bureau.
A new program last year was free nitrate testing of well water for Ohio Farm Bureau members. Each county Farm Bureau received 25 testing kits to distribute to members. Ohio Farm Bureau paid for the cost of the nitrate analysis, which was $25 per sample. Taking advantage of the testing was Henry County Farm Bureau member Kevin Thierry. He’s eager to find out the results. “Well water isn’t something you think about,” said Thierry whose family has farmed near Wauseon since the late 1800s. “Paying for this testing is a good example of Ohio Farm Bureau being proactive.”
Ag Plastics Disposal Educational Campaign*
Educational materials and signage described the adverse effects burning and dumping agricultural plastics has on the environment and the health of the community.
Tailgate to Touchdowns
Held before the high school’s first football game of the season, participants enjoyed Ohio grown and produced products while learning about agriculture. Partners included the local FFA chapter, athletic department and local agriculture businesses and organizations.
Visit The county Farm Bureau teamed up with Wilmington College to bring in Temple Grandin, a world renowned advocate for farm animal welfare and those afflicted with autism.
Keeping Backyard Chickens
Participants toured Turner Farm’s poultry operation, participated in a Q&A about chicken health, feeding and housing and learned how to quarter a fresh chicken.
Almost 70 participants drove their ATVs to a variety of spots to learn more about agriculture in the county. Stops included a seed supply business, tortilla chip producer and Ohio Northern University’s solar farm.
Ag + Science = STEM
A workshop for area teachers was held during the county fair to help them integrate the science of agriculture into classroom curriculums. Shared were STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lesson ideas and activities.
Lucas and Ottawa counties:
Demonstration Farms Tours
Two tours of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms showcased conservation practices and research being done on the three farms. The first tour was for county Farm Bureau members, public officials and legislators. The second was for county FFA chapters. The demonstration farms project is a $1 million, five-year joint effort of Ohio Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Season’s Harvest Dinner
Medina County Farm Bureau’s 8th annual Season’s Harvest dinner in August raised $22,000 in donations for Feeding Medina County. The dinner raised $12,000 and an auction at the event raised another $10,000 for the non-profit agency.
Ag Bags for Children
The county Farm Bureau purchased “How Did That Get In My Lunchbox” books along with coloring books and cinch top backpacks for children and parents to look at while visiting the local ER.
Technology in Agriculture
During the Buckeye Iron Will Club’s annual Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Show, the county Farm Bureau hosted a session on emerging technologies in agriculture and farming.
Conservation Day Camp*
This three-day conservation and agriculture education camp was for children ages 8-11. Each of the 15 sessions used a conservation or agriculture theme and all included a hands-on element to maximize camper interaction. The camp was a collaborative project with the county Farm Bureau and local Soil and Water Conservation District.
Tuscarawas and Carroll counties:
Weeding Out Substance Abuse in Rural America*
These counties wanted to support educating students, parents and community members on drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues. Working with the local Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, the groups assessed the problem and then created a Weeding Out Substance Abuse in Rural America campaign.
Women Shaping Ag
During this networking event for women in agriculture, participants learned the basics of using firearms and safety procedures.
It’s Not Just Cows and Plows Day
The county’s 4th graders gathered at the fairgrounds to learn about all aspects of agriculture, including farm safety, water quality, agriculture history, livestock production and the crop cycle.
Risk Management Seminar
The county Farm Bureau partnered with Nationwide on a farm safety and risk management seminar. Free and discounted slow moving vehicle signs were offered during the seminar, which also fulfilled one of Ohio Farm Bureau’s workers’ compensation group rating requirements.
The county Farm Bureau’s board of trustees developed a training day for officers on how to deal with the escape of livestock and safely handle anhydrous ammonia tanks during leaks after learning about the lack of training from a sheriff’s department representative.