Buckeye People

Harsh re-elected to NCGA Corn Board

Ohio Corn & Wheat (OCW) celebrated the re-election of Kelly Harsh to the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Harsh grows corn, wheat and soybeans on her operation in Delaware County, Ohio, and serves as current Chair of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. In 2021, she was appointed to serve in a vacant seat on NCGA’s Corn Board. Additionally, she has since served as NCGA board liaison to the Risk Management Action Team and the Finance Committee. 

“As farmers represent a smaller and smaller percentage of the population, boards such as NCGA serve a vital function,” Harsh said. “We have the power to shape policies that will allow us to continue providing an abundant source of feed, fiber and fuel in a rapidly changing world.”

For the past year, Harsh’s first priority in her role on the Corn Board has been for NCGA to effectively represent its federation of states by listening to grower needs nationwide.… Continue reading

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Gray name chief information officer for Farm bureau

John Gray of Ashtabula, Ohio, has been named chief information officer for Ohio Farm Bureau. In this new role, Gray will oversee a team of Information Technology professionals and work closely with IT partners to advance the organization’s core objectives. He also will be developing and implementing strategic solutions to stabilize and enhance the organization’s IT infrastructure and operations.
Most recently, Gray was the organization’s director of IT. He attended DeVry University, where he earned a bachelor of science in electronic engineering technology.
Prior to joining the Ohio Farm Bureau team, as a solutions architect and systems engineer, he consulted at various companies such as Honda North America, American Electrical Power, JP Morgan Chase and Nationwide.

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Celebrating a career of dedication to organic farming

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

In 1973, a young Dean McIlvaine was plagued by the problems caused by the energy crisis. The crisis was causing gas prices to skyrocket and fuel shortages were abundant. McIlvaine often thought about alternatives to using fossil fuel, something that would be better for the planet. 

A problem solver by nature, McIlvaine has always been intrigued by possible solutions to modern day problems. 

McIlvaine carried that curiosity into his adult life. In college at Grinnell University in Iowa, he studied economics and policy. McIlvaine was also exposed to organic agriculture during his time in Iowa at school.

“The idea of organic food production really resonated with me and blossomed. I tried to invoke change through politics. I had worked in Washington, D.C. for a stint, writing a proposal for organic education and research for the 1979 Farm Bill.  However, I became more interested in practical applications.… Continue reading

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Bush appointed to international role


Anthony Bush, an Ohio farmer from Morrow County, has been appointed to serve as a director on the board of MAIZALL, the international alliance of maize growers and exporters from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. He joins John Linder, NCGA’s chair, representing NCGA to the board.
Bush, a fourth-generation grain farmer, is also a board member for Ohio Corn and Wheat.

“Anthony is a nationally respected agricultural leader who will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the MAIZALL board,” said Chris Edgington, National Corn Growers Association president. “I can think of no one better to represent the American agricultural community as we collaborate with other farmer leaders from Brazil and Argentina to position the Americas for new trade opportunities overseas.” 

Combined, MAIZALL’s three countries account for over 50% of global corn production and 70% of world exports. Bush will begin serving on the board, effective immediately.… Continue reading

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Beam named social media specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau

Brooke Beam has been hired as the social media specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau. In her new role, Beam will be responsible for helping coordinate and execute Ohio Farm Bureau’s social media strategy with Senior Director of Communications, Ty Higgins.
Prior to joining the communications team at Farm Bureau, Beam worked for Ohio State University Extension in Highland County as the agriculture and natural resources/community development Extension educator. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from Ohio State University, as well as a Ph.D. with a specialization in agricultural communications. Beam also owns and operates a grain farm in Clinton County, where she is a Farm Bureau member.… Continue reading

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Ohio Corn & Wheat hires Eick

Ohio Corn & Wheat (OCW) is pleased to announce its new Director of Marketing and Communications, Marlene Eick.   

In this role, Eick will be responsible for leading the development and execution of annual communications and marketing plans and initiatives for Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, the Ohio Corn Checkoff and the Ohio Small Grains Checkoff. She will serve as an industry spokesperson and media liaison throughout Ohio and the U.S. Eick will also be responsible for the organization’s relationships with its members and national organizations such as National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, U.S. Meat Export Federation and more. 

Eick brings diverse integrated communications experience with a background in education, multimedia communication, and most recently, leadership and professional development training for local, state and national organizations in agriculture. She comes from a leadership consultant role in the business she founded and owns, Live Your Story LLC.… Continue reading

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Camp Canopy awards nearly $8,000 in scholarships

The Ohio Forestry Association Foundation concluded its annual Camp Canopy and presented graduation awards on June 17, 2022, at Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum. This year, 8 scholarships were awarded to campers with a total of $7,750 by the following entities:  

• Bryce Papp – $1,000, Ohio Forestry Association Foundation 

• Lily McGraw – $1,250, The Ohio State University 

• Aaron Sweitzer – $1,000, The Ohio State University 

• Sam Cox (highest exam score) – $1,000, Hocking College 

• Devin Lanave – $1,000, Hocking College

• Alex Bzdafka – $1,000; Zane State College

• Addison Woerner – $1,000, Zane State College 

• Adam Burse – $500, North East Ohio Forestry Association

Campers learned forestry and wildlife skills like tree identification, wildlife management, silviculture, ecology, and forestry forensics. Exams were administered Friday morning and the highest scores received college scholarships if they wish to pursue a degree in forestry, wildlife, or environmental science.… Continue reading

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Meet Ohio’s Golden Owl!

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

“Although I’m excited and extremely thankful, it’s not great for me. It’s great for our school and it’s great for our community…”

After winning one of Ohio’s most prestigious awards in the realm of agricultural education, Barrett Zimmerman was quick to pass the excitement on to those around him. Those who are fortunate enough to know him would call that true Barrett Zimmerman fashion.

Chances are, anyone who has ever stepped into an agriculture classroom was impacted by their agricultural educator in some capacity. Whether it be pursuing a career in agriculture post-graduation, gaining professional skills or learning a valuable life lesson, the impact of educators lasts a lifetime. A group of professional agriculture organizations and businesses decided a few years ago that this impact deserved to be recognized in a big way.

Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, Nationwide, Ohio FFA, Ohio Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Mid-America and AgCredit annually recognize 10 agricultural educators across the state of Ohio as Golden Owl Award Honorees.… Continue reading

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Breanna Barker named Ohio Pork Council marketing director

The Ohio Pork Council is pleased to welcome Breanna Barker to the staff as the organization’s marketing director, beginning June 20, 2022.

“On behalf of the Ohio Pork Council Board of Directors and staff, we are excited to welcome Breanna Barker to our dynamic team,” said Cheryl Day, Executive Vice President. “Barker’s deep-rooted passion for agriculture and vast experience will assist Ohio pig farmers in promoting pork in fresh, innovative ways.”

Barker joins the Ohio Pork Council with a passion for agriculture built only through time in the industry. Raised in Weld County, Colorado, Barker was heavily involved in the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, FFA, and 4-H. Barker spent time competing in events, such as prepared and extemporaneous speaking, dairy judging, and showing hogs, which instilled the drive to be an advocate for agriculture seen in her now.

Through many opportunities, Barker has been involved in agriculture throughout many states, including Colorado, Texas, California, Oklahoma, and now Ohio.… Continue reading

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Wuebker joining Ohio Ag Net team

Laura Wuebker is joining our team as an intern. This summer her responsibilities will include producing the weekly podcast and joining the afternoon broadcast team as an afternoon farm broadcaster.

Wuebker resides in Versailles, Ohio in Darke County. She grew up on her family’s diversified livestock and grain operation, where her passion for the agriculture industry was first established. Her love for the agriculture world developed as she learned the importance of sharing the story of each person involved in it. Her interest in radio developed during high school, where she worked at WTGR Radio Stations as a Co-Farm News Director. In this role, she broadcasted agriculture-related stories with the grain markets to four counties in Ohio and two in Indiana.

During high school, she was also involved in FFA, 4-H, National Honor Society, Darke County Fair Queen, and served as a State Vice President at Large for the Ohio FFA Association.… Continue reading

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OABA Welcomes Lauren Prettyman as Director of Communications & Member Experience

The Ohio AgriBusiness Association is pleased to welcome Lauren Prettyman as the Director of Communications & Member Experience. In her role, Lauren will oversee all aspects of association communications including social media management, event promotion, press release and news writing, graphic design, photography and videography, as well as managing members’ experiences, including Member Directory, event support, sponsorships, and more. Lauren’s first day with the association is June 6.

Lauren is a 2014 graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S in agriculture communication and a minor in production agriculture. While there, she was involved in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, university scholars’ programs and study abroad, including trips to study animal agriculture and environmental conservation in Chile, Brazil, Ireland and Costa Rica.

Lauren grew up on her family’s row crop and beef cattle farm in Marion County and has become more involved in helping on the farm since moving back to Ohio in 2020.… Continue reading

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COBA/Select Sires welcomes summer interns 

COBA/Select Sires welcomes four interns to the team for the summer of 2022. Rachael Billups, an incoming senior at The Ohio State University, joins as the Communications/Marketing Intern. Cole Pond, an incoming sophomore at The Ohio State University, Mecaylah Hesse, a recent graduate of the University of Findlay, and Cole Harhager, a student at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI), are Reproductive Services Client Manager (RSCM) Interns. 

Billups majors in agricultural communication with a minor in agribusiness. Her time in FFA, specifically participating in dairy judging contests, directed her path to COBA/Select Sires. Billups will work on organizing and distributing the route mailings each week for the District Sales Managers. Other tasks include newsletter writing, designing ads, posters, route stuffers, social media graphics and other marketing-related tasks. 

Pond is studying agribusiness and applied economics and comes with experience on his family’s Holstein operation in Woodstock, Ohio. Hesse is studying animal science industry and worked as a farm hand on two dairy farms, as well as a hog operation.… Continue reading

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Sunrise announces RISE FFA Career Program recipients

Sunrise Cooperative, Inc. is pleased to announce its 2022 RISE FFA Career Program recipients. Slated to join Sunrise as full-time employees following graduation are Kayla Cummins from Indian Lake -OHP FFA, Vivian Barnett of Willard FFA, Blade Hale and Gavin Sexton from South Central FFA, along with Chris Hiler from Buckeye Central FFA.

The five members of the 2022 class will begin work at Sunrise in June and will work their way through our RISE FFA Career Program, otherwise referred to as Sunrise University. Over the next four years, our new hires will gain hands-on, real-life job experiences, while learning all facets of the cooperative. 

In addition to full-time employment, Kayla Cummins was selected as the top recipient and will receive a 2021 Jeep Gladiator that the 2021-2022 Ohio FFA President Jacob Zajkowski drove during his tenure as a signing bonus. Along with her top honor, she earned a $1,000 chapter donation from Sunrise.… Continue reading

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OSU Extension hires new field specialist focusing on agronomic systems 

Stephanie Karhoff has been selected as the new field specialist, agronomic systems for Ohio State University Extension in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University. Karhoff’s full-time appointment is effective June 1, 2022. 

“We are extremely pleased to fund this important position, which will work in tandem with our other field specialists in agronomic systems, CFAES research faculty, producers, and our commodity and industry partners to translate and apply the newest university knowledge to meet the timely and most critical issues facing the ag crops industry in Ohio,” said Jacqueline Kirby Wilkins, associate dean and director, OSU Extension. “Please join OSU Extension in welcoming Stephanie Karhoff to this role, which is important to the continuing success of Ohio’s agronomic crops industry and Extension’s agriculture and natural resources efforts throughout the state.” 

Karhoff has served as the Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Williams County since April 2019.… Continue reading

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Farm Credit Mid-America promotes Tara Durbin 

Farm Credit Mid-America, one of the nation’s largest financial services cooperatives serving rural residents and farmers, has promoted Tara Durbin to Chief Lending Officer, Agriculture. Durbin joins Farm Credit Mid-America’s restructured Executive Committee under President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Wagner and now leads retail and commercial agriculture lending sales and support teams across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Tara Durbin

“I am most excited to be a strong voice for our retail and commercial agriculture teams and the customers we serve across our four-state footprint,” Durbin says. “As part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, Farm Credit Mid-America secures the future of rural communities and agriculture by being a reliable, consistent source of credit. I look forward to using my experience to represent these voices at the highest level of our organization.” 

Durbin’s deep experience in agriculture began on her family’s small grain farm in Highland County in Southern Ohio.… Continue reading

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Ohio Agricultural Council announces 2022 Hall of Fame inductees

Four Ohioans who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community will be honored Friday, August 5, by the Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC), when they are inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame. 

The Ohio Agricultural Council (OAC) will induct 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 56thannual 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.” … Continue reading

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Legacy Farmers Cooperative facilities Certification in 4R Nutrient Stewardship

Continuing their commitment to improving water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Legacy Farmers Cooperative facilities in Arcadia, Arlington, McComb and Pandora have achieved certified status for year six and the Custar facility for year seven through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program.

The voluntary certification program is a concentrated effort by the agriculture industry to significantly reduce and prevent applied nutrients from running off fields, which has contributed to water quality issues in Lake Erie. Facilities are required to meet certain program goals each year to retain certified status. 

With the program in its eighth year, the Legacy Farmers Cooperative facilities are among the first to achieve years six and seven certified status.

“Legacy Farmers Cooperative is proud to be part of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program,” said Mark Sunderman, president and CEO of Legacy Farmers Cooperative. “It takes all of the efforts of our employee team and members/customers following the 4Rs to show our commitment to making a difference in water quality.… Continue reading

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Ohio State hosts and wins the 2022 All East Livestock Contest

The Ohio State University (OSU) hosted the 2022 All East Livestock Contest on the OSU Wooster campus from March 31 through April 3. This three-day collegiate livestock judging contest was sponsored by the Ohio State Department of Animal Sciences and the Agricultural Technology Institute (ATI). The event was attended by 64 contestants from eight four-year agricultural universities from across the eastern United States attended this contest. Attending universities included: Michigan State University, Mississippi State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, and University of Tennessee.

The contest consists of three separate contests held on consecutive days: market animal evaluation, breeding animal selection, and a traditional livestock judging contest. Awards were given to individuals and teams that excel in the individual contest categories. Results for the individual contests were also weighted across all three days on an equal basis to recognize high individuals and teams in the overall contest. … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau hires ExploreAg and ag literacy program specialist

Jana Mussard of Mount Vernon has been named ExploreAg and ag literacy program specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau. She will oversee planning, marketing and implementation of the ExploreAg program, as well as create a comprehensive ag literacy program that aligns with the ExploreAg workforce development program.

Mussard grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Fulton County. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a master’s degree in youth development and leadership.

Before joining the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation staff, Mussard was an Ohio State University Extension 4-H educator in Knox County. Prior to that, she specialized in administration and marketing with COBA/Select Sires.

Mussard is a member of Knox County Farm Bureau.… Continue reading

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Ohio agriculture teachers named finalists for Ag Educator of the Year

Agricultural educators serve a critical role in the communities they serve, devoting countless hours to preparing students for successful careers and helping them pursue their passions. To shed light on the contributions of Ohio’s leading agricultural teachers, Ohio FFA, Nationwide, Ohio Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Mid-America and AgCredit, ACA are honoring 10 exceptional educators as finalists for the Golden Owl Award.
From Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, Ohio FFA collected nominations for the state’s top agricultural teachers from local students, parents, fellow teachers and community members across the state.
Ohio’s 2021-2022 Golden Owl Award finalists are:

  • Tricia Schoen, Genoa-Penta FFA, Genoa
  • Laura Ringler, Plymouth FFA, Plymouth
  • Lowell Moodt, Grand Valley FFA, Orwell
  • Barrett Zimmerman, Clyde FFA, Clyde
  • Sarah Heilers, Anna FFA, Anna
  • Aaron Thompson, Upper Scioto Valley-OHP FFA, McGuffey
  • Jeff Tilley, Amanda-Clearcreek FFA, Amanda
  • Tim Kilpatrick, Coshocton County Career Center FFA, Coshocton
  • Eric Heeg, Blanchester Great Oaks FFA, Blanchester
  • Abby Campbell, Fort Frye FFA, Beverly

Each finalist was presented with an individualized plaque in front of fellow teachers and students and received a $500 donation to their school’s agricultural program to support future educational efforts.… Continue reading

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