Erica and Andrew Wilson of Columbiana County, Ohio; Megan Reisinger of Clark County, Ohio; and Adam McFarland of Wayne County, New Hampshire recently participated in the 2011 Youth Pork Leadership Institute held in Columbus, Ohio. Sponsored by the Ohio Pork Producers Council (OPPC) and the Ohio Soybean Council, the annual program gives high school and college youth hands-on experience in developing leadership, citizenship and communication skills.
“The Ohio Youth Pork Leadership Institute is a great opportunity for young pork enthusiasts to learn and experience all facets of the industry,” said Jennifer Keller, OPPC director of marketing and education. “From individual hog farms to local grocery stores, the program allows Ohio’s future leaders to learn about hog farmers’ commitment to providing safe, nutritious food for our consumers.”
During the three-day event, participants toured the Bob Evans Farms test kitchen and The Ohio State University (OSU) meat lab, where they learned about food service and pork quality, respectively. They also discussed issues impacting the pork industry while visiting with Beth Vanderkooi, Director of State Policy for Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and Seth Teter, Assistant Editor for Buckeye Farm News at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. On the final day of the program, the group visited Hord Livestock in Bucyrus, Routh Packing in Sandusky and Price Farms Organics in Delaware to observe different aspects of hog farm operations.
“Pat Hord of Hord Livestock was my favorite speaker,” said Adam McFarland. “He taught us a lot about all of the advancements happening in the pork industry and how we have changed our methods of production to be focus on animal welfare.”
The six participants were selected based on their achievements and enthusiasm toward the pork industry and agriculture. The program is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 21.
Ohio ranks 9th in the nation for pork production and is third in the nation for the total number of hog farms per state with more than 3,900 hog farms, the vast majority of which are family owned and operated.