Ohio Farmer

Ohio Bits: Funds available for flood protection; register for 4-H Spark Expo; farmers take their concerns to state capital.

February 29, 2024

4 Min Read
Catherine Wolcott and Sara Tallmadge
WINNERS: Catherine Wolcott (left) was named Outstanding Young Farmer, while Sara Tallmadge received the Excellence in Agriculture award Jan. 27 during Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience.Courtesy of Catherine Wolcott and Sara Tallmadge

Catherine Wolcott of Geauga County and Sara Tallmadge of Ashland County were big winners in Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 2024 young farmer competitions.

Wolcott was named Outstanding Young Farmer, while Tallmadge received the Excellence in Agriculture award Jan. 27 during Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience.

Wolcott and her husband own and operate G.A.R. Horizons, a small farm that raises pork, beef and chicken with an on-site farm store, along with crop farming 110 acres around the county.

An eight-year member of Geauga County Farm Bureau, Wolcott has served as a board member and secretary for the organization and is currently a Geauga County 4-H adviser. She is a member of many local organizations, including the Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce, Destination Geauga and Chardon Square Association.

Tallmadge is a senior laboratory animal technologist and registered veterinary technician supporting livestock animal and public health research at Ohio State University’s Center for Food Animal Health, which is located on the CFAES Wooster Campus.

She is president of Ashland County Farm Bureau, serves on the Young Agricultural Professionals state committee and is a Class X graduate of Agri-Power, OFB’s elite leadership program. She is a member of the Ohio Rural Health Association and has served on the CFAES Staff Advisory Council.

A graduate of Stautzenberger College’s Veterinary Technician program and OSU with a bachelor’s degree in health science, Tallmadge is working on her master’s degree in clinical research, also at Ohio State.

As winners, they receive a $3,000 cash prize, complimentary registration to the 2025 YAP Winter Leadership Experience and an expense-paid trip to the 2025 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Antonio. Prize packages are sponsored by Nationwide and Farm Credit Mid-America.

Following Wolcott, the Outstanding Young Farmer finalists were Sheldon Miller of Ottawa County and Brad Wolford of Pickaway County.

Following Tallmadge, the Excellence in Agriculture finalists were Megan Dresbach of Pickaway County, Olivia Lang of Wayne County and Hannah Thompson of Athens-Meigs County.

All finalists receive a softshell jacket and complimentary registration to the 2025 YAP Winter Leadership Experience. Finalist prizes are sponsored by Nationwide, Farm Credit Mid-America and Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.

Apply for funds to protect from flooding, soil erosion

USDA’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications from landowners interested in Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE) to protect lives and property from flooding or soil erosion. Applications for EWPP-FPE are taken on a continuous basis, and the deadline for fiscal 2024 funding is March 15. 

A floodplain easement is a reserved interest in the land defined in a deed where the landowner conveys specific property rights to NRCS, but retains ownership, title and interest in the property. Owners will continue to enjoy limited property rights including:

  • the right to quiet enjoyment

  • the right to control public access

  • the right to undeveloped recreational use such as fishing or hunting

Floodplain easements are designed to offer vital recovery options for local communities to help reduce hazards to life and property caused by major storms by restoring and protecting a floodplain’s natural hydrology and native vegetation. Increased floodplain storage also offers water quality benefits such as reduced sediment and nutrient loading. 

Find Ohio’s ranking dates as well as other program information on the Ohio NRCS Floodplain Easement webpage or email Christopher Eidson at [email protected]. To learn more about other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS programs, visit nrcs,usda.gov or contact your local USDA service center.

Register for 4-H Spark Expo

Ohio students will have the opportunity to explore future careers at the 4-H Spark Expo this summer on the Ohio State University campus.

From June 12-15, teens at the expo will learn about agriculture and related STEAM fields from industry experts and faculty and staff of the Ohio State College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

As part of Spark Expo, students visit Ohio State’s Columbus and Wooster campuses and learn from Ohio State students, teachers, scientists and researchers. Students explore careers, hear from Ohio 4-H alumni who share their career stories, and learn about the college and career-readiness program, Ohio 4-H Pathways to the Future.

The 4-H Spark Expo is open to all Ohio students who have completed eighth grade or ninth grade at the conclusion of the 2023-24 school year. Participants do not need to be enrolled in the 4-H program. The event includes on-campus accommodations, meals, program materials and transportation. Supervision is provided by adult program staff.

The deadline to register is April 17, and details are at go.osu.edu/4hsparkexpo.

Farmers gather for 2024 Ag Day at the Capital

Eminent domain reform and additional landowner protections, water quality, a more resilient food system and the expansion of affordable high-speed broadband access were just a few of the concerns hundreds of Ohio Farm Bureau members shared as they met one-on-one in Columbus with their state senators and representatives during Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual Ag Day at the Capital on Feb. 21.

Attendees also took part in a Leadership Panel with members of the 135th General Assembly to discuss the future of important agriculture policies being considered in Columbus, including property taxes, environmental stewardship, education and workforce development, and rural health care, among other topics.

In addition to lawmakers, attendees also heard from Ohio Farm Bureau President Bill Patterson and the organization’s Executive Vice President Adam Sharp between meetings with legislators at the Statehouse.

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