Dr. Jerry and Rita Lahmers of Newcomerstown are winners of the 2023 Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize for their innovative work on farmer mental health initiatives.Read More
Jenny Cox of Dresden is president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation board of directors in 2023. She also currently serves as southeast regional trustee for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and is a long-time board member of both boards.
Cox is the communications director at Bickle Farm Solutions, and she and her husband, Jared, own Cox Seed Sales. They also own and operate a family farm, where they raise corn, soybeans and wheat in Muskingum and Coshocton counties.
Our Ohio caught up with Cox to ask how the foundation carrying out its mission subsequently impacts agriculture.
Q: What are the pillars that make up the essence of the foundation, and why is each one critical to the mission of supporting future ag careers?
The foundation has a three-pronged approach to inspiring interest in and commitment to agriculture – innovative programming, such as our signature science program, ExploreAg, for high school students, as well as numerous scholarships for students entering into agriculture or related fields, and grants to nonprofit organizations, county Farm Bureaus and programs advancing agricultural education.
Participation in any of these aspects of the foundation serves as great exposure to agriculture but also serves as a gateway into Ohio Farm Bureau as a whole. One in eight jobs in Ohio are related to food and agriculture. As the demands for employees to fill these roles increase, we want to do our part to cultivate the next generation of workers to grow their careers in agriculture.
Q: How do you track success?
The simple answer would be to track quantitative metrics such as dollars raised by the foundation, participants at our annual golf outing, increased sponsorships, or attendance at our ExploreAg camps. However, the most rewarding measures of success are the stories of the lives that have been impacted by the foundation. For example:
- Haven Hileman of Scioto County has received multiple foundation scholarships and recently participated in the 2022 Ohio Farm Bureau Annual Meeting as a delegate. Haven is currently attending The Ohio State University, where she is studying animal sciences.
- Jayden Porter of Franklin County participated in an ExploreAg camp on a whim because he was interested in being a food scientist. At the close of camp, during the networking portion of the camp ceremony, he met Dan Durheim, AVP of Sponsor Relations at Nationwide. Jayden and Dan exchanged information and through this interaction, Jayden became an ambassador at the Land and Living Building at the Ohio State Fair and is currently applying to be on the Ohio State Fair Junior Fair Board. Jayden will be graduating from high school in May and has plans to attend The Ohio State University to major in food science.
Q: What does the next chapter in the development of the foundation look like?
It is such an exciting time to be a part of the foundation board. First and foremost, the opportunity to work with and get to know some of these young students – whether it is through networking at an ExploreAg camp or reading about all of their accomplishments and activities through reviewing scholarship applications – is incredibly rewarding. The stories and successes of these young people confirm to me that the future of agriculture is bright.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the opportunity to work alongside this amazing board. The foundation board is made up of 16 members who are all connected to agriculture and youth development but in very different ways. At every single meeting, committee event, foundation program, or chance encounter – I learn something new from every single foundation board member. Of course none of this would happen without our amazing donors who make the work of the foundation possible through their annual contributions.
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.Groovy Plants Ranch
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.Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
When Christopher and Courtney Anderson asked to get married on a neighbor’s idyllic farm in Portage County, they were overjoyed…Read More
Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation board member Roger Nicol speaks about ‘paying it forward’ through the work of the foundation.Read More
A total of four grants were awarded to county Farm Bureaus in the amount of $5,000 each.Read More
The Yvonne Lesicko Perseverance Prize recognizes groups or individuals working to find innovative solutions to farmer mental health difficulties. Nominations are due July 31, 2023.Read More