The American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities of Excellence awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programs that serve as models of innovation for local program development.
The winning counties, including 11 from Ohio, receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention & Trade Show Jan. 19-24, in Salt Lake City. AFBF received 151 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention.
“Ohio having more CAE winners than any other state is becoming a regular occurrence,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director, leadership development. “Our members take great pride in their communities and these awards are truly a testament to the hard work Ohio Farm Bureau staff and volunteers put into county programs across the state.”
Here are Ohio’s winners.
Adams County: Farm Bureau Day at the Fair
Adams County Farm Bureau partnered with the local hospital and OSU Extension to provide no cost health care screenings and breakfast to current members. In addition, Farm Bureau and Soil & Water Conservation District offer kids games including watermelon eating contests, seed spitting, pedal tractor pulls, and the popular frog jumping contest. Adults enjoy tractor games which include a series of skill exhibitions including timed wagon backing, tractor basketball, and slow racing. To support the Junior Fair, Farm Bureau distributed gift certificates to the 4-H Food Booth for every junior exhibitor as well as supported the junior fair sales.
Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby Counties: Local Agriculture Activity Book
The Agriculture Activity Book is a one-of-a-kind children’s coloring and lesson book that features farmers from four neighboring counties and the commodities they grow, as well as age-appropriate activities and games for kids. These activities are all themed after that farmer’s commodities and how consumers use them. The book was distributed to over 3,500 students in a four-county area and was used as an agriculture education tool in many classrooms. The book provided counties a way to promote, educate and engage with the community’s young people about agriculture and their food.
Clinton County: Piggies, Pie, Play Ball and Putt Putt
Piggies, Pie, Play Ball and Putt Putt program was designed to help at-risk youth learn responsibility, ownership, and leadership skills among many other positive characteristics through raising a hog for the county fair. Each year Clinton County Farm Bureau has provided at least one hog for at-risk youth to use and Farm Bureau members serve as mentors. Funds to supply the hogs are raised through a pie auction at the county annual meeting. To raise additional funds, a putt putt golf outing was planned and after the county fair youth are treated to a baseball game.
Fayette County: Farm to Fork Goes to Town
Instead of hosting the annual Farm to Fork dinner on a farm, this year, Fayette County Farm Bureau decided to take the event to town to showcase agriculture and the role it plays within the community. A highlight was an educational mix-and-mingle, which included seven stations attendees visited to learn about products that would later be used in creating their own butter board. Local agricultural producers hosted each educational station to show how these different industries play a role in the county. Proceeds from the event support local FFA.
Fulton County: Tomato to Table, A Breakfast on the Farm Event
This was a free admission event held on a local Farm Bureau member’s tomato farm, created to help show urban and rural consumers how modern farms operate, produce food and commit to continually improving water quality. The county Farm Bureau, Ohio State University Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District planned, organized and implemented this project with support from six area counties’ Farm Bureau, Extension and SWCD organizations. This project involved over 400 volunteers sharing a positive agricultural message around farming practices utilized to protect the area’s water quality.
Henry County: Shine in the Show Ring, A Leadership Development Livestock Show for Individuals with Special Needs
An alternative livestock show for individuals with developmental disabilities partnering with Junior Fair livestock exhibitors to present livestock projects to professional judges, Shine in the Show Ring is a one-of-a-kind livestock show that engaged the participants with mentors who provided them with individualized training to elevate their strengths and self-esteem. Simultaneously, this event created an opportunity for the participants to gain confidence in caring and showing livestock in a Junior Fair setting. Shine in the Show Ring was the most attended livestock show at the county fair, with about 400 people in attendance.
Muskingum County: Building for the Future of Agriculture
Taking their typical display at the county fair to the next level, Muskingum County Farm Bureau turned it into the “Building for the Future of Agriculture” exhibit. The main focus of the building was careers in agriculture. Every day of the fair, youths were able to interact with displays about different careers in agriculture and participate in hands-on activities led by a summer intern and volunteers. The county Farm Bureau wrote multiple grants and received funds to create interactive displays that grabbed the interest of today’s youth, hosted STEM activities and most of all encouraged youth to investigate careers in agriculture and see them as a potential pathway for their future.
Trumbull County: Books and Barns Ag Literacy Project
The Books and Barns Ag Literacy Project was a dynamic initiative aimed at promoting agricultural education, fostering a love for reading, and building positive perceptions of agriculture among children. Core elements include hosting Storytime with a Farmer sessions, constructing “Book Barns” and distributing agricultural books to various organizations and libraries, particularly targeting urban youth. The program helped create a deeper appreciation for the hard work, dedication and challenges that farmers face. This first-hand exposure fosters a connection to the land, food, and the people who produce it, leading to a greater sense of responsibility and stewardship.