By Casey Ellington, AgriPOWER Class IX participant
Community was the word that kept coming to mind throughout our fifth session on heavy hitting topics in Ohio’s first capital city. We traveled to Chillicothe to hear about a wide variety of topics: the opioid crisis, organic farming and cooperatives.
I did my best to leave preconceived notions about the topics in which we were to hear about during this session, which at times was a struggle. But a closed mind gains nothing. I know I have gained a lifetime of a changed outlook and softened heart.
I was encouraged and heartbroken at the same time while listening to Tia Moretti from the Ohio attorney general’s office. Tia provided great insight to what the state can currently provide to members of our community struggling with addiction and realizing that opioid addiction is in every zip code and economic class. She shared her insight in regards to policy, help, strain of our resources and first responders, along with the children of this crisis. Ross County Commissioner Steve Neal and Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney shared of great programs in their local county schools. Programs such as M.A.D.E (My Attitude Determines Everything) is a program where the community comes together around their youth that chooses to participate by taking a drug test and earn rewards such as winning a new car and so much more. A community coming around and acknowledging there is a problem and the only way to solve it and provide hope is to come and work together to provide solutions for those affected.
Cooperatives are near and dear to my heart and lately in our current state of agriculture there have been many mergers but also many births of revitalized ways for small farmers to have a competitive edge. Mandy Way from Southern Ohio Growers Cooperative shared how it has helped her family farm along with 8 other members have a stronger foothold in their products marketplace. They order seeds and supplies together and are able to fill larger orders that they otherwise would not be able to fill. Receiving the larger order and customer discount is crucial for economic success as a small farm. I always think of my cooperatives class and remember how it reflects as a community with a common goal working together for success.
I have always said to “Celebrate or sell our differences and not our betterment. For only the consumer decides which is truly better for them.” Consumers are seeking out and the marketplace is growing for organics and pastured based programs. Listening to Kyle Sharp and Paul Dorrance, organic farming is a great solution for many small family farms to receive an economic edge. And to many it’s a personal choice worth making, while also needing conventional farming markets to survive. I was encouraged that conventional and organic farmers can work together in our agriculture community in unity especially in regards to animal agriculture. I will continue to seek out the conversations to find the commonalities through our differences of opinion and seek value and respect in them.
While touring three different local businesses, Miedema Dairy, Glatfelter Paper wood yard and Hirsch Fruit Farm, they shared the different ways community involvement helps their businesses be successful. P.S. Ever Crisp apples are the most delicious!
Community seems to hold the key for success in our business and daily lives. Sometimes a positive outlook on the issues in our community and the willingness to lend a hand can change the tides and set the course for healing and success.
AgriPOWER has been a life changing and encouraging leadership experience that I am so thankful to have the opportunity to experience. Challenge yourself and reach out to a current or past class graduate to see how you can benefit! AgriPOWER Class 10 is now open for applications!
Session 1 blogs
Eric Reed is excited about implementing the “Building Strong Communities” project.
JD Bethel talks about the strong partnership between Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide.
Leadership is influence, explains Melinda Lee.
Session 2 blogs
Communication with consumers is key, says John Arnold Jr.
Stephanie Rucinski vlogs about the relationship between media and agriculture.
Brenda Mescher talks about community “why” rather than “what.”
Addressing tough conversations is the subject of Terri Specht’s blog.
Session 3 blogs
Jess Campbell talks about the United States of Agriculture.
Respectful conversations are vital, says Craig Pohlman.
Megan Lezzer describes making a difference in D.C.
AgriPOWER trip to D.C. fast-paced, informative, says Jackie Mosier.
Session 4 blogs
Practice what you preach, says Kristen Dickey.
Steve Brunner talks about civics and camaraderie.
Jonah Neill learned about the benefits of lobbying.
Session 5 blogs
Phil Cobb learns about Ohio’s opioid crisis.
Brian Palmer describes lessons learned about how local governments run.