Country Life

Ohio 4-H members shine in STEM, woodworking and welding

By Matt Reese

Once again, 4-H exhibitors at the Ohio State Fair rose to the occasion to represent the next generation of Ohioans well. This, of course, took place in the livestock barns and the show rings, but it also took place in project judging of the many non-livestock projects at the Ohio State Fair. We love to highlight livestock exhibitors, and in a tradition started by Kyle Sharp years ago, I wanted to dedicate a little space here to recognize the success of some of Ohio’s top non-livestock 4-H exhibitors. Thanks to Randall Reeder for taking photos and captions and for his work with the youth. Congrats to all of those young people who enjoyed success at the 2022 Ohio State Fair! Many more photos from the 4-H Welding, Woodworking, and Engineering Excitement contests are on

Photos by Randall Reeder

On 4-H Welding Day, the Clock Trophy winners were (left) Case Hummel, Medina County, and Gavin Podach, Henry County.
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Protecting Lake Erie is a job for all rural Ohioans — New septic systems prevent phosphorus discharge

By Karen Mancl, Professor Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University

With each summer, attention returns to Lake Erie both as a vacation spot and concern for the quality of the water. In the summer of 2014, a harmful algal bloom threated the water supply of thousands of Toledo residents. As a response rural residents and farmers have been asked to change the way they use their land to help protect Lake Erie for the future.

Too many nutrients washing off the land in the Lake Erie watershed help feed the algae. Nutrients come from a variety of sources — fertilizer, manure, and sewage. Septic systems permitted in Ohio are designed to reduce odor and pathogens in wastewater to protect the public health but are not designed to remove nutrients. Discharging systems, even when operated to meet all discharge standards, still discharge phosphorus and nitrogen that flows to Lake Erie in northern Ohio and the Gulf of Mexico in southern Ohio.… Continue reading

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New fair food offerings aplenty at the 2023 Ohio State Fair

America’s legions of “fair food” fans are in for a special treat on July 29 when A&E’s “Best in Chow” series debuts Ohio’s own Pork Double-Decker Pork Loin Sandwich created at the Ohio State Fair by the Ohio Pork Council. As part of the 21-episode series, viewers can join host Matt Richards as he travels to the biggest state fairs across the country to find America’s wildest foods and most creative concoctions.

Ohio’s swine-centric entry for the A&E show features two, inch-thick slices of pork loin, paired with three pieces of Ohio-produced Daisy Field bacon, topped with coleslaw and farmer-favorite, D.B. Yummers BBQ sauce.

“Creating this unique sandwich for Best in Chow a year ago at the fair was an amazing experience for us to really showcase the best pork that Ohio has to offer in a fun, over-the-top way,” says Cheryl Day, executive vice president of Ohio Pork Council. “We hope everyone will not only tune in to see the amazing creations from across the country compete but will come try the Double-Decker Loin Sandwich for themselves at this year’s fair.… Continue reading

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Are dangers to liberty on display in unusual landowner case?

By Leisa Boley-Hellwarth

There is a case pending in Virginia that is worth watching. Josh Highlander, age 37, lives in a nice house on 30 acres of old-growth hardwood in eastern Virginia’s New Kent County. He has never had a hunting or fishing violation. The opening day of Virginia’s 2023 spring turkey season was April 8. That was the day his wife noticed unknown men camouflaged as trees walking through the property. Turns out the visitors were game wardens who seized four trail cameras that Josh had placed on his property. Apparently the cameras were taken so that the wardens could review all of the film footage to determine if Josh had broken the law. Josh was not happy about this intrusion so he filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources that poses the question, can government agents enter your land without a warrant to spy on you?… Continue reading

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A bird’s eye view of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

Most people consider the chance to see a bald eagle or an owl a rare and special opportunity, let alone coming face-to-face with one. A non-profit organization in mid-central Ohio has been allowing guests to interact with birds of prey and Ohio bird species up close for over 30 years. The Ohio Bird Sanctuary provides personal connections between humans and birds through education and rehabilitation.

Located today in Mansfield, the original Ohio Bird Sanctuary was founded on Gail and Chris Laux’s farm in Bellville in 1988. Gail had a passion for outdoor education from her previous work for Cornell University and other nature centers where she gained the proper training and education needed to rehab raptors. When she and her husband moved to the area, they saw a need for raptor rehabilitation in the community. At the time of the founding, bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons, and barn owls were all endangered in Ohio.… Continue reading

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Dean’s Charity Steer Show set for Aug. 1 at the Ohio State Fair

The Dean’s Charity Steer Show, an annual event that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio, is set for Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Ohio State Fair. Hosted by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), it will be held at 2 p.m. in the Voinovich Livestock & Trade Center on the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair grounds.

The 2022 show raised $247,148 for RMHC. 

“Every dollar we raise means families can stay together only steps away from their hospitalized child during one of the most stressful times of their lives,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “This event brings together our community to celebrate agriculture and children, including our 4-H youth as well as children benefiting from the Ronald McDonald House.”

Currently, the Columbus Ronald McDonald House is undergoing a major expansion, more than doubling the size of the facility.… Continue reading

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The legend of Mark Morris

By Don “Doc” Sanders

If you don’t already know about him, allow me to introduce you to Dr. Mark Morris. He was a veterinarian known for his extraordinary work in developing diets to manage dog and cat diseases. He graduated from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1926.

In the late 1920s he built one of the first veterinary hospitals for dogs and cats, in Edison, New Jersey. His clinic focused only on dogs and cats. Something unheard of in those days. Then, veterinarians usually focused their practices on farm animals.

Morris was a pioneer in researching, diagnosing and developing treatment protocols for dogs and cats. Working with Rutgers University, his groundbreaking achievement was developing a nutritional program to manage dogs with kidney disease. He named his nutritional formula K/D, which many of you may recognize if you have had a dog with kidney disease.

The concept of this formula is to lower the nitrogen intake (protein) to alleviate the urinary excretion load on a dog’s kidneys.… Continue reading

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Agricultural viewpoints on Issue 1

A number of agricultural groups have come out in support of Issue 1, which will be part of a special election scheduled for Aug. 8.

The ballot initiative asks Ohio voters if the state should strengthen the petition process and raise the threshold to 60% for approving constitutional amendment proposals. If passed, the resolution will raise the bar for approving constitutional amendments to 60% and will modify the requirements for the petition process for proposals to change the constitution, requiring no less than 5% of the electors represented from every county of the state to sign a petition. Currently, signatures must be gathered for only 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Additionally, the initiative would eliminate a 10-day period that petitioners are granted to replace any invalid signatures. Importantly, Issue 1 only applies to constitutional changes, and the initiated petition process to amend Ohio law remains unchanged.

Many in Ohio agriculture support the measure because of the security and affordability of the state’s food supply resulting from having a more measured approach to amending the Ohio Constitution.… Continue reading

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Budget bill includes many non-budget changes for ag

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

While Ohio’s “budget bill” is important for funding our agencies and programs, it always contains many provisions that aren’t at all related to the state’s budget. The budget bill provides an opportunity for legislators to throw in interests of all sorts, which tends to add challenges to reaching consensus. Though many worried about having the current budget approved in time, Ohio lawmakers did pass the two-year budget bill, H.B. 33, just ahead of its deadline on June 30.

We’ve been digging through the bill’s 6,000+ pages of budget and non-budget provisions and the Governor’s 44-item veto. Some of the provisions are proposals we’ve seen in other legislation that made their way into the budget bill. Not included in the final package were Senate-approved changes to the Current Agricultural Use Valuation law that would have adjusted reappraisals in 2023, 2024, and 2025.… Continue reading

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Getting the most from a unique property

By Matt Reese

In the current market, Ohio farmland properties have the potential to derive value from a broad array of different sources, all of which come into play at an auction.

“When you’re looking into buying some of these more unique properties, you need to do your own due diligence. Check out all the print ads and the all the information that’s provided by the auction company,” said Matt Bowers, auctioneer, realtor and equipment specialist for Dye Real Estate and Land Company. “We try to leave no stone unturned. We try to make sure all the information about the property is available and we are very open to any kinds of phone calls or anything like that you may want to check on. If you’re looking at it as an investment property, you’ll want to know what kind of cash rents there are in the area. If you’re looking to farm it yourself, you’ll want to know the soil types and whether the property is tiled.… Continue reading

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Holmes County Steam & Engine Show Aug. 3-5

Steam engines, antique tractors, threshing machines and more will soon be rolling into Mt. Hope for the 31st annual Holmes County Steam & Engine Show.

“This may be our biggest show yet,” said Melvin Wengerd, Holmes County Steam & Engine Association president. “The $10,000 purse featured for our Thursday evening horse pull is the largest in the state and always attracts some of the greatest pulling teams around.”

The three-day event will be held on the Mt. Hope Auction Grounds/Holmes County Event Center, in Mt. Hope, Ohio. Dates are Thursday, Aug. 3 through Saturday, Aug. 5.

Highlights include Thursday’s horse pull. New this year is a mini pony pull starting at 2 p.m., and a draft pony pull starts at 4 p.m. Friday will feature a tractor pull and Saturday there will be a garden tractor and mini rod pull. Visitors won’t want to miss threshing and sawmill demonstrations, tractor games and Saturday’s finale drawing for the pedal tractor.… Continue reading

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Apply now for controlled hunts

By Dan Armitage, Buckeye Sportsman

Ohio hunters are fortunate to have special opportunities for pursuing popular game birds and animals on state land. Applications for Ohio’s public land controlled hunting opportunities are being accepted through July 31. The hunts provide special chances for people to pursue deer, waterfowl, doves, and more on public lands during the 2023-24 season. The Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) as well as the Division of Parks and Watercraft host controlled hunts on select areas around Ohio. Hunts for adults, youth, mobility impaired, and mentors with apprentices are available. Species-specific hunts include deer, waterfowl, dove, pheasant, squirrel, and quail. Firearm and archery opportunities are available for some species.

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System or via phone by calling 1-800-703-1928. There is $5.50 service fee for the phone option. Each hunt requires payment of a non-refundable $3 application fee.… Continue reading

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Fulton County hosts successful Breakfast on the Farm event

Triple H Farms in Metamora opened its farm to nearly 3,000 guests on Saturday, June 24 for the 2023 Breakfast on the Farm event (BOTF). Guests of all ages enjoyed a free, locally produced breakfast and a self-guided tour of a modern grain, tomato, and beef farm.

“Breakfast on the Farm was a great way to showcase agriculture to people who have never had the opportunity to visit a farm,” said Amanda Podach, Fulton Soil and Water Education Specialist. “The feedback was so positive, people really enjoyed exploring the farm, and the breakfast was amazing. We owe a huge thanks to the Herr family, our sponsors and more than 350 volunteers who helped make this day such a great success.”

Podach shared that this type of event gives the general public a first-hand look at modern food production, especially as the gap between producer and consumer continues to grow. The goal was to offer the opportunity for the public to experience how farmers care for their animals, how they produce wholesome and safe food, and how they care for the land.… Continue reading

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Biotechnology advancing the agriculture classroom

By Jake Zajkowski, OCJ field reporter

Honeybees are a familiar sight for those in agriculture, and now more than ever in science classrooms. Teachers at the GrowNextGen Ag Biotech Graduate Academy are taking soybean plants, pests, and their pollinators to the next level by training teachers, who then pass the engaging and industry-relevant labs on to their students. Sponsored by Corteva and the Ohio Soybean Council, GrowNextGen’s mission is to make agricultural learning relevant for students in Ohio.

“One thing that is really beneficial from GrowNextGen is that we get the labs and the worksheets to go along with the lesson and we get the materials,” said Olivia Pflaumer, FFA Advisor and tenth grade environmental science teacher at Global Impact STEM Academy. “It’s a place to get started and we can modify it as we need so we can scale it up or down for our students as we see fit.… Continue reading

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Central State University named partner institution on $10 million agriculture award

Central State University (CSU) partners with three other universities to receive a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to recruit, educate, train, and retain the next generation of diverse food and agriculture professionals.

The From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals (NEXTGEN) award was given to CSU and Lincoln University, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), along with a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), Texas A&M University, and one Research University (RIU), Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“The goal is to train our undergraduate students to become the essential workforce for the future of agriculture in the United States,” said Hongmei Li-Byarlay, CSU’s principal investigator (PI) for the project, research associate professor of entomology at CSU, and project director for Pollinator Health, Agricultural Research Development Program. “The grant will provide a lot of training opportunities and research internships for students to explore a variety of topics in agriculture, especially in soil science, entomology, and life science.”… Continue reading

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Ohio’s sweet heritage: Evolution of ice cream 

By Jake Zajkowski, OCJ field reporter

In just about every town in Ohio, where ice cream shops seem to dot each street corner, Ohioans share a special connection with this beloved frozen treat. As we celebrate National Ice Cream Month, it presents an opportunity not only to indulge in a weekly ice cream run but also to reflect upon the significant history of ice cream in the state.

“Ohio played a prominent role in ice cream manufacturing,” said John Lindamood, a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. “When I began working in Extension, there were 425 dairy plants in the state of Ohio, with specialty ice cream products leading the sales. “

Lindamood’s tenure at Ohio State University spanned 40 years during a pivotal era of innovation in the ice cream industry as a dairy foods Extension agent. Ohio proudly claims credit for several iconic ice cream inventions during this timeframe, including the ice cream drumstick, pioneered by Ohio State, the Klondike bar from Isaly’s Dairy Company in Mansfield, and the Good Humor brand, which initiated the first-ever treat delivery service across suburban America.… Continue reading

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USDA announces investment in wildlife conservation in rural America

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will expand its work on wildlife conservation by investing at least $500 million over the next five years and by leveraging all available conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), through its Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) effort.

“Working Lands for Wildlife is living proof that we can do better work when we work with our partners,” said Terry Cosby, NRCS Chief. “Partnerships have been the building blocks of success over the years, and we look forward to our continued work with partners to help grow and shape voluntary conservation on private lands.”   

These commitments ramp up the conservation assistance for farmers, ranchers, private forest owners and tribes with a focus on working lands in key geographies across the country as well as hiring for key conservation positions. The funding will help deliver a series of cohesive Frameworks for Conservation Action, which establish a common vision across the partnership of public and private interests and goals for delivering conservation resources in a given ecosystem, combining cutting-edge science with local knowledge. … Continue reading

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Hot summer weather increases risk of heat illness

Farmers, producers, and anyone who works outdoors should beware: When the weather is warmer, you’re at a higher risk for heat illness, which can come on suddenly with many people unaware they’re in danger. 

Even experienced workers are vulnerable to heat-related illness, said Dee Jepsen, state leader, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Program. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

One reason is that, often, some are unwilling to admit that heat affects them. Or they don’t recognize the symptoms. 

In fact, almost half of heat-related deaths occur on a worker’s first day on the job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 70% of heat-related deaths occur during a worker’s first week. 

“There seems to be a stigma associated with being affected by heat illness,” Jepsen said. “Some of the typical responses from some as to why they’re unwilling to acknowledge the risk of heat illness include, ‘I don’t need a break,’ ‘I need to prove I can work hard,’ or I don’t usually need to drink a lot of water.” … Continue reading

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Walleye getting no respect

Ohio does not officially have a state fish to complement the long list of official animal symbols that even include a state fish fossil. Potential state fish candidates have been debated through the years, as residents and legislators have suggested a wide range of native fish species to formally represent the state, including yellow perch, smallmouth bass, bluegill and walleye.

When the Columbus, Ohio-based news outlet, NBC4, held a poll to narrow down official fish options to propose to state legislators in 2021, the walleye received 27.5% of the votes. During NBC4’s initial survey where they asked readers and watchers to suggest species for the eventual poll, walleye also made up around one-third of the feedback. Ohio has struggled with deciding on its official state fish since at least the 1980s, as various state fish bills have been proposed, with every one failing to get passed — including that most recent effort.… Continue reading

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