James Neff was inducted into the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame July 20, during the Crawford County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting held at the Crawford County Fairgrounds. Crawford County Farm Bureau partnered with other agriculture organizations to designate an inductee into the inaugural Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame, a recognition for outstanding contributions by an individual to agriculture. An honorary plaque was presented to honor Neff, and a permanent Hall of Fame plaque will be displayed in the Antique Tractor Barn on the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
Tom Daiber nominated Neff, his mentor and friend, to receive this inaugural award for his service as an agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor, his many other accomplishments in Crawford County and the State of Ohio, and his volunteer work in developing countries. Neff began at Wynford High School when Mount Zion schools became part of the Wynford district and stayed until his retirement. During his time he served as an advisor to more than 50 State FFA Degree recipients, coached a national champion FFA livestock judging team, and mentored countless student teachers for Ohio State. His accomplishments included having OSU use videos of his teaching methods as examples for students, serving as a National FFA office advisor, and receiving a National FFA Honorary American Farmer Degree.
Neff served more than just Crawford County and the FFA during his lifetime. He also traveled abroad to improve agriculture and living conditions in developing countries. In Jamaica he worked with street children to help them develop life and employment skills. He taught soil and crop management, construction and basic maintenance at the New Beginnings International Training Center. While in Haiti, his lessons focused on welding, agricultural construction techniques and basic agronomy. He provided vocational training so the people could improve their livelihoods through agricultural development. Neff also worked in Africa where he trained agricultural teachers for the Peace Corps.
Locally, Neff was involved in his church and community. He was active in his church, served as a Fairway-Waycraft Board member, 4-H advisor and was dedicated to the Crawford County Fair. He cared deeply for others and never stopped learning. Neff was an early adopter of no-till on his own farm, was involved with the Soil Conservation Service, and taught other soil conservation techniques to improve Crawford County farms.
“His passion to share practical skills and life skills instilled knowledge and self confidence in his many students,” said Daiber. “Neff’s positive impact on our community and agriculture through his students, and others he encountered, may be beyond measure and has spread far beyond our community.”
Applications for the 2019 Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees will be available at crawford.ofbf.org. Nominations may be made by an individual or organization to recognize a farmer or breeder or someone in the agricultural industry. Up to two awards will be available each year.