The realization that she may have to delay getting her college degree to earn tuition money weighed heavily on Christine Balint’s mind. She was a student at Ohio State University and on track to get her bachelor’s degree in agriscience education in May 2018. But she needed more tuition money to finish her studies. She found it when she learned about the various scholarships Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offers to students across the state.
“I thought about taking a year off because I couldn’t afford it, but then I realized I could stay in school and keep doing the service work that I’m passionate about, which is working with inner city Columbus youths and educating the public about agricultural issues,” said Balint, a Lorain County Farm Bureau member.
Balint received three foundation scholarships to help pay for her education: the Cindy Hollingshead Scholarship Fund, John C. “Jack” Fisher Scholarship and Women’s Leadership in Agriculture Scholarship.
“I’m so grateful to Farm Bureau for believing in me,” Balint said. “When you have someone who believes in you, you want to give back and I will definitely be giving back to Farm Bureau.”
Balint first learned about the value of being a Ohio Farm Bureau member through her college roommate who was president of Ohio State’s Collegiate Farm Bureau.
“It was nice getting to meet people in Farm Bureau and understand their outreach in counties,” she said. “Farm Bureau is all about helping each farmer in what they pursue, whether it’s representing them at the political level, helping them start a farm or just educating them in general about what’s going on in the ag world.”
Even though Balint’s parents didn’t have an agricultural background, both she and her sister embraced the agricultural lifestyle. They were active in 4-H and FFA and showed animals, including horses, chickens, sheep and goats. The sisters graduated from Firelands High School and are the first of their family to go to college. Balint’s sister, Shelby, is an ag education teacher, and Balint is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in agriscience education.
“If I wouldn’t have gotten involved in 4-H or FFA, I don’t know where I would be today,” Balint said. “I have such a love for agriculture and want to help those who don’t come from a farm background.”
Giving back has long been a way of life for Balint. She’s passionate about helping others through various service projects, including volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House and being a mentor to inner city Columbus students where she teaches them about higher education, community activities and nutrition. A highlight was working with Habitat for Humanity in Oklahoma to help build a home for a tornado survivor and learn about the area’s homeless.
While in college, Balint has been involved in many activities, including being an ambassador for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, being a member of the Ohio FFA Teach Ag Team, Agricultural Education Society, Collegiate Farm Bureau and College Young Farmers and going through REACH Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training. She was an Ohio Soybean Council Student Ambassador in 2016 and attended the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress in Washington, D.C. This past winter, she joined hundreds of Young Agricultural Professionals at its Winter Leadership Experience.
Currently, Balint is completing her student teaching at Big Walnut High School and aspires to be an ag education teacher or work for a commodity group.
“As an ag educator, it’ll be very important for me to stay informed and represent agriculture, especially for those who may not be Farm Bureau members or involved with agriculture,” she said. “My goal is to spread agricultural awareness to urban students around the country, especially in Ohio.”