OCJ/OAN family update

By Matt Reese

We are a tight knit bunch at Ag Net Communications. You may have noticed some staff additions recently, which is kind of like a second family for me. We welcomed back Joel Penhorwood, who has been helping with video, radio and print. We also added two new marketing specialists we are very excited about working with: Joe Everett and Kristin Flowers.  

At the same time, OCJ and Ohio Ag Net Marketing Specialist Risë Labig has announced her upcoming retirement. During the last 10 years, Risë has re-invented the job description for our sales team, always going the extra mile for her clients and thinking outside the box for ways we can better serve them. Most days my email in-box contains a note from Risë on something I can do to help better serve her clients in some way. And with her persistent urging we have done just that.  

Risë Labig, OCJ and Ohio Ag Net Marketing Specialist 

In my time working with Risë, it has been a privilege getting to know both her and her husband, Scott. On several occasions I have stayed in the beautiful Labig home lovingly dubbed “Chateau de Risë” for road trips when a Darke County overnight was useful. These visits were always accompanied by delicious food of some sort and some unique, fancy blend of coffee I’d never had before with some sort of fruit or nut in the name, like raspberry truffle latte deluxe or something along those lines.  

Beyond the passion for her clients and top-tier hospitality, Risë also has been a great resource for insights into the happenings in Ohio’s agricultural community. She always seems to know what is going on, the topics of interest in western Ohio agriculture and pertinent farm news issues we should be covering. I will surely miss all of these traits she brought to our team, along with her dedication to her family, their farm and her faith. Every staff meeting with Risë included some smiles and laughter. She truly loves her clients and it shows in her work, determination and endurance for service to them and others. It has been a real honor to work with Risë and call her a friend. Happy retirement Risë! Whenever given the chance, I’ll raise up a cup of chocolate strawberry hazelnut mocha to you!

Here is something she wrote for the occasion….

Fading into the sunset 

By Risë Labig, OCJ and Ohio Ag Net Marketing Specialist 

I am part of a generation that has seen tremendous change. I can only image what my grandmothers, were they still alive, would think of all the technology today! I’m in a reflective mood, because I will be turning over to that magical age where I become eligible for Medicare. I have to admit, just the thought of signing up makes me feel older.  

When I first started in sales, I was selling fax machines. I was working as a sales agent for Xerox, and that was cutting edge. When I started in marketing for Ohio Ag Net, we were just starting to use the computer exclusively to write contracts, instead of writing them by hand. I have to admit, there are still some days I would rather fill in a form by hand than using my phone or laptop.  

I grew up in a time where I knew life without a cell phone. I am the youngest of the baby boomers, and we all had grandparents who grew up with vivid memories of life in the Great Depression. We know many of their frugal tips, and I think we could survive just fine if we had to go “off the grid.” My husband swears this is why he still has a few tractors that don’t use a computer. He will still be able to fire them up, as long as there is diesel fuel left in the reserves. 

I also grew up in a time where my generation was among the first of many of our families to attend college. It wasn’t uncommon for my classmates to get married right out of high school. A new home cost a whopping $25,000 and we just about fainted at that price! We just finished remodeling and adding onto our house on our family farm, and I am sure my grandparents would have been shocked at the cost to do so now. 

I can remember attending Farm Science Review a few years ago and seeing the first “driverless tractor.” Many scoffed at the idea, but now most farms experience a labor shortage, and the thought doesn’t seem so extreme.  

When I attended college (BGSU — Go Falcons!) there weren’t a lot of career options for women besides the standard teacher, nurse, accountant, fashion merchandising (mine), etc. Now, young women have choices we never imagined possible. I have been fortunate to have experienced working full time, staying home for a few years to raise our son, to working part-time and back to full-time.  

I made my share of mistakes along the way, and if I have any advice for the younger generation — you can try to do it all at once, but something in fact does get sacrificed, and it’s often another human being. Put family first as often as you can. I grew up on a farm, and have been a farm wife 42 years, and I know there are times the farm just has to come first, because Mother Nature still rules. When you feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to say “no” or “not now.”  

Lastly, it’s really okay to take time for yourself, and to get re-charged. None of us do it often enough. The best thing I ever learned was to start my day with quiet time with my Lord. When I don’t, my day just doesn’t flow as well. Stress will take a toll on your body if you don’t manage it. It shows up in all different kinds of illnesses, so take that walk, eat well, and focus on Jesus. 

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this is my “retirement” announcement. Yes, I have decided to end my career in marketing with Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net at the end of this year. I can honestly say that I have been so blessed to work with everyone on our team. They are not only great to work with, but they are all great people. They are family. 

I was hoping to quietly fade into the sunset, and not really “announce” my retirement plans, but Matt said if I didn’t write something, he would. That scared me more.  

A tremendous heartfelt thank you to all my clients over the years. You, too, have become family. I know I will continue to see many of you at ag events in the future. All of us have really been on this same journey of changing technology and watched how it has transformed our daily lives and jobs. 

Right now I don’t have any specific plans for retirement. My farmer immediately thought it meant he has a full-time tractor and grain cart driver. I assure you this is not the case. The plan is to take a few months to enjoy some warmer weather over the winter, and then see what transpires. I want to spend more time with mom, who lives a few hours away, and is looking forward to seeing me a bit more often as well. 

I am so blessed, as I reflect on the past 10 years with this team and clients. Thank you! 


  1. Rise, just want to wish you a wonderful retirement!! I am glad to have had the opportunity to have met you and talked in a couple different occasions. I wish you much joy and relaxation! Have fun with your next chapter, who knows this could be the best seller!

  2. Rise, wishing you good health and all of the happiness in your retirement!

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