Four Ohioans who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community were honored Friday, Aug. 5, by the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC), when they are inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) inducted Leon Boucher of Dublin, Steven C. Drake of Colorado Springs, CO, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of Lancaster, and Duane Stateler of McComb, into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame. The 56th annual event normally attracts more than 600 guests to honor the four professionals for their lifetime of service and dedication to Ohio’s agriculture community.
“We are pleased to recognize this impressive class of Hall of Fame inductees,” said Chris Henney, president of the Ohio Agricultural Council and president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association. “Through their advocacy, mentorship and conservation efforts, the contributions to the agricultural industry of the 2022 class have been recognized across local, state, national and international levels.”
The following four inductees joined 241 prior recipients named since 1966 when the program was incepted.
Leon Boucher of Dublin
With an impact that spanned the globe, Leon Boucher, Ph.D. dedicated his life to imparting knowledge upon others. A distinguished and decorated veteran, Boucher served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-1950. Upon his return, he worked simultaneously for The Ohio State University and Hilliard High School as an educator at the Student Teacher Training Center and Vocational Agriculture program, respectively.
After earning his Ph.D. in 1964, Boucher began his career as an Assistant Professor at Ohio State. From 1965-67, he served on the U.S. Agency for International Development Team, developing teacher training programs in agricultural education in India, before establishing similar programs in Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Sri Lanka, and Lesotho. As a professor at Ohio State until his retirement in 1986, Boucher provided leadership to the recruitment process, oversaw the agricultural education student teacher program and served as the editor of the Ohio Agricultural Education News.
With many awards and accolades to his name, Boucher has been recognized on the local, state, national and international levels. But above all, Boucher’s legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched throughout his illustrious career: fellow faculty members, student teachers, students, advisees, and the agricultural education profession in Ohio, around the United States and throughout the world.
Steven C. Drake of Colorado Springs, Colorado
With unparalleled vision, passion and optimism, Steven C. Drake’s contributions to the agriculture industry in Ohio and the United States continue to resonate today. As the Executive Vice President of the American Soybean Association, Drake coordinated a grassroots campaign to help establish the soybean checkoff in Ohio and across the country, providing funding for expanded soybean research, improved practices and market expansion.
In 1992, Drake started Drake & Company, an association management company. Among his clientele was the National Christmas Tree Association, which had been noting a steady decline in live Christmas tree sales across the country at the time. By implementing new grower marketing efforts, sales rebounded in three years and continued to grow, becoming a case study for marketing programs. Drake was also instrumental in developing the Trees for Troops program, which supplied live Christmas trees to troops overseas.
A consummate networker and mentor, Drake rarely turned down a meeting with new people, stating “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” He was well known for sharing encouragement, wisdom and lessons learned throughout his career. Ever the optimist and collaborator, Drake brought everyone he met along with him on his journey for a brighter agriculture industry.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of Lancaster
A champion for food security and anti-poverty efforts, Lisa Hamler-Fuggitt has spent more than 35 years fostering innovative, effective and cross-sector collaborations targeting food insecurity. Leading countless stakeholders, many unexpected, she has been an inextricable part of nearly every step of the implementation of federal and state hunger relief efforts in Ohio.
As lobbyist, then Executive Director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, Hamler-Fuggitt stood firm in her conviction that hunger is not a partisan issue, working with Ohio’s Republican and Democratic administrations alike to implement effective hunger relief legislation, and securing annual budgetary dollars to allow Ohio’s foodbanks greater ability to procure food. She was also instrumental in developing direct relationships with the Ohio agricultural community, including farmers and commodity partners. Among her many accomplishments was the development of the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program, a nationwide model for directing surplus agricultural products to food insecure community members. Since its inception, the program has rescued hundreds of millions of pounds of Ohio-grown foods.
A fierce and trusted advocate, Hamler-Fuggitt has been tireless in her efforts to tell the story of Ohio’s food insecure, meeting with every local, state and national decision maker available. Though her battle is not yet won, her contributions continue to pave the way for the next steps in addressing food insecurity in Ohio.
Duane Stateler of McComb
A tireless advocate for Ohio’s farmers, fourth-generation farmer Duane Stateler has devoted his entire life to agriculture. With an unextinguishable passion for crop and pork production, Stateler has always been driven to give back to the industry that had given him and his family so much — leading him to pursue countless leadership appointments, memberships and opportunities to promote agriculture in practically every way available.
Growing the family farm from a 100-sow farrow-to-finish operation to the contract production operation he has today, Stateler’s devotion to the pork industry is paramount. Through his involvement in the National Pork Producers Council and Ohio Pork Council, he has been at the forefront of many influential conversations with elected officials at the state, local and national level. His charisma and ability to have transparent conversations with political influencers has paid dividends to the pork industry in the areas of African swine fever, global trade, cultured meat, gene editing, and Proposition 12, to name a few.
As a farmer in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Stateler knows first-hand the challenges agriculture has endured regarding water quality. Always ready to be part of the solution, the Stateler farm joined the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms project in 2016, opening their doors to thousands of visitors to observe the conservation practices designed to improve manure and nutrient management. As a friend of the industry and a true leader, Stateler has dedicated countless hours working diligently to find concrete solutions for hot-button issues.
Dear Ohio Farmers,
There are no words to express the great thanks the American nation has for your time and effort and intelligence.Sincerely, Cheryl A. Joseph, from:162 Winter street, Whitman, Massachusetts 02382/4-H Gardening, Sewing and Chickens from 1962-1966. WHRHS-class of 1970;Boston College, B.S., Biology, 1974;M.Ed. 1980.