Ohio’s county Farm Bureaus won eight of the 24 County Activities of Excellence awards presented in October by the American Farm Bureau.
The awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programming and serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties receive a grant to fund their participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2020 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and IdeAg Trade Show, set for January in Austin, Texas.The American Farm Bureau Federation received more than 100 entries across all membership categories.
“For Ohio to lead the way again with CAE winners speaks to the hard work and commitment of our county Farm Bureaus,” says Paul Lyons, Ohio Farm Bureau vice president of membership. “These award-winning local community efforts being recognized on a national level is quite an accomplishment, and we couldn't be more proud of our winners.”
Here are the winning Ohio counties and their entries:
Ashland, Wayne, Medina, Holmes: Safe Farms facility. Current agricultural safety training sites in the state are limited due to inclement weather, size restrictions and high demand. Four county Farm Bureaus developed a partnership with a local regional training facility that is a nonprofit organization focused on educating first responders. The new Safe Farms facility will offer training for grain entrapment awareness and operations, confined space, rope rescue, high-angle rescue, electrical emergencies, and preplanning structures and building construction.
Ashtabula: County Ag Day. More than 1,025 first-grade students, educators and chaperones from all school districts and several home schools in the county were guided to interactive educational stations to learn about fruits, vegetables, gardening, livestock, grains, dairy products, alternative agriculture, farm machinery and a USDA MyPlate experience to guide them on a healthy nutrition path. The primary goals of this event was to educate first-graders on where their food comes from, and to showcase the different types of agricultural commodities being produced in the county and state.
Belmont: School Backpack program. Students are in need of food on the weekends, when school meals are not being provided. For Belmont County, 260 backpacks need to be packaged with food each week, and the schools expect this number to rise. County Farm Bureau trustees went into the community to ask for monetary donations, and letters were sent to Farm Bureau members within the county asking for their help. The county exceeded its $40,000 goal, and the monies received were spent to package meals for this program. The funds are enough to provide meals for two years at the current need level.
Carroll and Tuscarawas: Sowing the seeds for agriculture’s future. Through a two-day field trip to educate students about food, agriculture and environmental sciences careers, students took part in on-site demonstrations and were provided the opportunity to interact with the presenters, resulting in a better understanding about the jobs available. Students were also versed on what they will need to do to be prepared to pursue various career paths. Since many of these students had attended prior programs offered to educate them on the dangers of substance abuse, the event incorporated strategies on increasing students’ self-esteem.
Highland: Ladies Night Out. The overall goal of this event is for Farm Bureau to host a fun evening of networking, shopping, and supporting local businesses while catering to female members with an educational component. Using a large barn on the fairgrounds, a wide variety of vendor booths were set up at one location for a more enjoyable shopping experience for attendees. Raffle tickets were sold for about 25 different items to raise funds for a local charitable organization.
Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Allen: Agricultural District Sign-Up Days. Taking a proactive approach to help members protect themselves from legal battles from a potential “rights of nature” initiative, Farm Bureau decided to hold Ag District Sign-Up Days. These sign-up days gave county Farm Bureau members a chance to learn more about the initiative, how it might have affected their farm and what Ag Districts could do for them. Each county worked with its county auditor and Ohio State University Extension to give informative presentations; and there were multiple computers, printers and workers set up to help attendees complete their Ag District applications correctly.
Ross: MADE on the Farm. The county Farm Bureau saw the growing problem of substance abuse and lack of local resources to address this issue, and it took action with Drug Free Clubs of America. MADE (My Attitude Determines Everything), a nationally recognized drug prevention and education program for youth. There are eight local MADE chapters in the county. Trustees saw the success of MADE programming and resolved to raise funds to support local chapters with an annual MADE on the Farm fundraiser event.
Warren: Feed our neighbors, support our future. The county Farm Bureau wanted to find a creative solution to be a contributor to the 4-H sale at the fair, and at the same time help a larger group of people. They created a new program called Feed Our Neighbors, Support Our Future. This program encouraged new businesses to participate in the hog sale by also giving them the option to donate the hog they purchased at the auction to a food bank. The program helped solve two major issues: inviting new businesses in a county that is rapidly becoming urban to participate in an agriculturally focused 4-H auction, and helping a rapidly growing population of people living in poverty.