Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation recently awarded nearly $85,000 in scholarships to students across the state, the highest amount given in a single year.

According to Tara Durbin, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Board and chief lending officer for agriculture at Farm Credit Mid-America, the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has put intentional focus on its purpose to create more clarity and awareness around what the foundation is, and the work that it is committed to. 

“Our focus is to inspire and educate the next generation of agricultural professionals through scholarships, innovative programming and grants. We are in a strong position to catapult the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to the next level, thus creating greater awareness around careers in agriculture and success to the next generation of agricultural professionals,” Durbin said. “This year’s record-breaking amount of awarded scholarship dollars is a true testament to the continued dedication and hard work from our board, donors and volunteers.”

Annually, the foundation recognizes Ohio students for their academic effort, community engagement and career interests that link agriculture to community service, education or scientific research.

Bill and Helen Swank Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Bethany Starlin of Hocking County and Caleb Durheim of Delaware County. Over the course of his 40-year career with Farm Bureau, Dr. C. William (Bill) Swank enriched countless lives in the farm and food community. This fund honors the legacies of Bill and his wife, Helen, with a scholarship for the next generation of agricultural leaders.

Cindy Hollingshead Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Bethany Starlin of Hocking County, Caleb Durheim of Delaware County, Haven Hileman of Scioto County, Lauren Mellott of Richland County and Luke Spracklen of Clark County. This fund honors Cynthia Anne (Cindy) Hollingshead for her 39 years of service as Ohio Farm Bureau’s executive secretary, as well as a lifetime of volunteer commitment to local government and community service activities. Financial assistance goes to students who are pursuing careers focused on agriculture, community service and association leadership.

Darwin Bryan Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Aubrey Speakman of Fairfield County, Caleb Durheim of Delaware County, Carrie Rhoades of Darke County, Haven Hileman of Scioto County, Lauren Wuebker of Darke County and Raegan Feldner of Noble County. This fund was established in 1985 in honor of Darwin R. Bryan whose enthusiastic leadership during his 37 years of service to Ohio Farm Bureau has been an inspiration to rural youth throughout Ohio. The fund assists students who have been active in Farm Bureau’s youth program and/or whose parents are Farm Bureau members.

Dr. David A. Benfield Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Alexis Montgomery of Lewis County, West Virginia and Emma Leggett of Tuscarawas County. The Dr. David A. Benfield Scholarship fund was established in 2019 by colleagues and friends of Dr. Benfield to honor his 17-year career as associate director of OARDC and associate vice president and director of the Wooster Campus in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences as well as his passion for agricultural education and research. The scholarship is specifically for students in livestock and crop sciences at ATI.

Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Scholar Award

Recipients of this award are Brandon Zuercher of Hancock County, Caleb Durheim of Delaware County, Carmen Corcoran of Ross County, Carrie Rhoades of Darke County, Emma Sutherly of Miami County, Halle Miller of Wayne County, Jacob Stiltner of Defiance County, Kadence Carroll of Fulton County, Kiley Holbrook of Fairfield County, Lauren Mellott of Richland County, Morgan Shupert of Adams County, Raegan Feldner of Noble County and Ryanna Tietje of Wood County. This award recognizes students for academic effort, community service and career interests that use agriculture to enhance the partnership between producers and consumers in rural, suburban and/or urban settings.

The Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Ashley Tate of Holmes County and Katelynn Smeltzer of Ashland County. The Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association is a nonprofit trade association representing 2,500 thoroughbred owners and trainers who race at Ohio’s three commercial thoroughbred race tracks. The objective of the scholarship fund is to assist students who plan to pursue careers focusing on food or agriculture.

Jack Fisher Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Anna Lowers of Noble County, Anya Demshar of Lake County, Caleb Durheim of Delaware County, Carrie Rhoades of Darke County, Conner Johnson of Franklin County, Dawson Osborn of Highland County, Halle Miller of Wayne County, Haven Hileman of Scioto County, Jacob Stiltner of Defiance County, Kiley Holbrook of Fairfield County, Luke Jennings of Clermont County, Noah Smith of Fairfield County, Raegan Feldner of Noble County and Ryanna Tietje of Wood County. This scholarship is named after John C. “Jack” Fisher, who served as Ohio Farm Bureau’s executive vice president for 20 years. His vision for this scholarship is to enable people to acquire the necessary tools for a more fulfilling life.

Joseph Kelly Memorial Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Clayton Kowalski of Lorain County, Elena Runion of Lorain County and Noah Galloway of Erie County. This scholarship was established in 2018 to honor the life of Joseph Kelly and to continue his legacy of generosity and service. The Joseph Kelly Memorial Scholarship is an annual, merit-based competition that focuses on rewarding students pursuing degrees related to agriculture.

Kenny Walter Scholarship Fund

Recipients of this scholarship are Anya Demshar of Lake County, Ashley Tate of Holmes County and Kaitlyn Praisler of Wayne County. The fund provides scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education in agriculture who come from the 29 northeastern counties Walter served as an Ohio Farm Bureau regional supervisor and organization director.

Richard and Carole Cocks Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Haven Hileman of Scioto County and Micah Dawson of Huron County. This scholarship is intended to help students pursuing a career in agriculture who reside in rural Ohio. Scholarships are awarded annually to deserving students from select rural Ohio counties. Each scholarship award is renewable for up to four years.

Women’s Leadership in Agriculture Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Abigail Schwartz of Auglaize County, Alyssa Swick of Fairfield County, Bethany Starlin of Hocking County, Halle Miller of Wayne County, Haven Hileman of Scioto County, Lauren Mellott of Richland County, Regan Draeger of Sandusky County, Ruth Beery of Ross County and Shelby Carrico of Pike County. This scholarship is for students who have chosen a career path that benefits agricultural or community development such as food production, scientific research, education/outreach or leadership development. The program was established by an endowment from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee.

Yvonne Lesicko Memorial Scholarship

Recipients of this scholarship are Halle Miller of Wayne County, Haven Hileman of Scioto County and Lauren Mellott of Richland County. This fund was established in honor of Yvonne Lesicko, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy, who passed away in 2020, to provide support for the next generation of student leaders. The income from this endowment will provide scholarship assistance in perpetuity to students majoring in agricultural and environmental policy or agriculture-related fields, such as food production, scientific research, education/outreach, policymaking, advocacy, or leadership development for women.

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, a 501(c) (3) charitable, nonprofit organization, understands the need to inspire innovation and cultivate investment in Ohio’s farm and food community. Learn more by visiting ofbf.org/foundation.

This is a news release for use by journalists. Questions should be directed to Ty Higgins, 614-246-8231 or [email protected].

Farm Bureau is an incredible organization that has given me countless professional development opportunities in addition to advocating for all sizes and types of farmers.
Shana Angel's avatar
Shana Angel

Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau

If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington, D.C.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
Through its policies it brings together people in the agricultural community and invests in building vibrant communities that support agriculture.
Eric Bernstein 's avatar
Eric Bernstein

Wyandot County Farm Bureau

Future employees, leaders
If you have issues with local planning or have legal questions, someone at the Farm Bureau has the answer for you, or they’ll connect you with someone who does.
Gayle Hansen's avatar
Gayle Hansen

Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau

Hansen's Greenhouse
As a member of Farm Bureau, I am glad that this organization takes action when necessary to protect and advance agriculture.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Policy Development
We go to a lot of Farm Bureau events, and there’s a lot of camaraderie built because you’re meeting with people who have similar interests and goals.
Andy Hollenback's avatar
Andy Hollenback

Licking County Farm Bureau

Event Calendar
Suggested Tags: