Mike Townsley, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, grew up on a farm, so it is no surprise that his career led him back to one as CEO and president of Bob Evans Farms, Inc., where he now serves as chairman. Townsley has dedicated his life to food and agriculture, starting in the meat industry. As president and CEO of Bob Evans Farms, Townsley led the company’s incredible growth in the refrigerated sides business. He believes in putting the right people in the right positions and empowering them to execute the vision that has been set for the organization.
Q: Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation continues to grow. What are you most excited about as the philanthropic organization really starts to come into its own?
One of my biggest priorities for our board this year is to increase our visibility by sharing our story — who we are, what we do and why our work is so vitally important to the future of Ohio agriculture. By sharing these stories, we will continue to grow our fundraising efforts and the impact we’re able to have in our communities, our region and throughout the state.
Q: You are president of the foundation board. Tell us a little about the make-up of the board and what’s in store for the year ahead.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s 16-member board is one of the most energetic and diverse boards that I have had the pleasure of serving on and leading. We have representation from the Ohio Farm Bureau trustees, our Young Agricultural Professionals group (YAP), county Farm Bureaus, and a dynamic group representing some of the most successful Ohio-based businesses such as Nationwide, COSI, The Kroger Co. and Bob Evans Foods, just to name a few.
In 2021, the board will be focused on developing a strategic campaign plan that will propel us into 2022 and beyond. We want to establish set priorities and goals for the next three to five years that will enable us to grow our scholarship funds, increase our grant opportunities and support our innovative programming like ExploreAg.
Q: What would you tell anyone who is contemplating becoming a donor or active volunteer of the foundation?
I would say ‘join us!’ The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is a great way for individuals, families and businesses to support Ohio agriculture. We envision a future where tomorrow’s greatest leaders are passionate about and drawn to careers in agriculture, but we need incredible support to make it happen. Whether you choose to make a gift, participate in our annual Golf Invitational or volunteer your time with us, your partnership will result in a harvest of new leaders and innovation for tomorrow.
Finally, I would encourage those who are interested in learning more about the foundation or who are interested in making a gift to please visit the foundation website or contact our executive director, Kelly Burns, at [email protected] or 614-246-8275.