Across the Table: How firm thy friendship

How firm thy friendship. That phrase has been echoed by alumni of The Ohio State University for decades, and those words have a way of taking us back to a time of freedom, challenges and achievements. The words are one of the many long-standing traditions all Buckeyes recognize. 

This year marks 150 years since the establishment of the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as Ohio State, which was originally located within a farming community on the northern edge of Columbus.

Although the size and scope of the university has changed considerably, the relationship between the university and Ohio Farm Bureau has remained constant. In fact, many Farm Bureau archives that were examined during our organization’s centennial last year showcase just how closely our two entities have worked together.

One example of that long-standing partnership came from a 1920 Scioto County Farm Bureau planning guide which outlined work with Extension on some very pressing projects for that time including manure management, cover crops and fertilizer demonstrations. 

Fast forward 100 years and even though the challenges for our industry today may be very similar, they are more complex. Thankfully, the partnership we have with Ohio State to find cutting-edge solutions to the issues we are facing is stronger than ever.

This partnership continually researches ways to improve how we farm, but at the same time it is also very useful in developing leaders who will carry agriculture well into the future. Initiatives like the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s ExploreAg camps and other Youth Pathways programs give young people the opportunity to take a learning path at the college level that could spark their pursuit of careers in the farm sector.

Dr. Cathann Kress has made some significant efforts as dean of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences to reach out to a broad collection of food, agricultural and environmental communities. She has made it a priority to find out what a meaningful collaboration looks like with the ag industry as a whole when it comes to teaching, research and Extension. Her leadership has led to compiling better data, allowing students the access to advanced internships and building awareness for issues that are important to rural Ohio.

Her vision for the future is exciting. Along with a new Extension building on campus in Columbus and a new science building on the Wooster campus comes a fresh perspective for recruitment. No matter if students begin their college experience on the Columbus campus or one of the many Ohio State branches across the state, if they have an interest in seeking an ag-based degree, the transition to CFAES is welcomed.

Between Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio State we have many strengths. Each of our organizations can apply what we do best to tackle the major issues in front of us. That’s what we’ve been doing for over a century. Both of our organizations are steeped in traditions and very few are more important than the strong partnership we have formed to better serve those we represent. 

Featured Image: Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp, Ohio State University CFAES Dean Cathann Kress and Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III share a lighthearted moment at a reception after dedicating the Ohio Farm Bureau historical marker on OSU’s campus in January 2019. Farm Bureau first met 101 years ago on the Columbus campus. 

Photo by Dave Gore