Farm Bureau programs in 14 Ohio counties receive national awards

Ty Higgins

COLUMBUS, OH. — The American Farm Bureau Federation county activities of excellence awards celebrate unique, local and volunteer-driven programs that serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties, including 14 from Ohio, receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE showcase at the 2023 American Farm Bureau annual convention and trade show on January 6 through January 11 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. AFBF received more than 143 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention.

“Once again, Ohio has more CAE winners than any other state,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director, leadership development. “We are thrilled to see 14 counties recognized by the American Farm Bureau and we are proud of what each county Farm Bureau across the state does to not only be an integral part of their community, but make it even stronger through these programs''.

Ohio’s winners:

Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas Counties: Check Your Engine

The check your engine mental health awareness project caters specifically to the farmer. The tagline for this project is “Have you checked your check engine light?” Farmers are used to caring for crops, equipment, livestock, etc. but what if farmers need a tune up of their own? The county Farm Bureaus collaborated with their county’s Alcohol Drug Awareness and Mental Health Services Board and OSU Extension agents to address access to mental health services to rural communities with the goal to provide training to the employees of local businesses who interact with producers every day.

Clinton County: A Therapy Benefit for Farmers

Clinton County Farm Bureau realized it’s been a rough couple of years between overreaching regulations, severe weather during planting/harvesting season, unsteady markets and pandemic pressures. The county also recognized that the most important asset of the farm, business and home is the person operating it. Clinton County Farm Bureau partnered with BetterHelp, the world’s largest therapy provider, in extending an additional layer of support to members and their loved ones by providing access to professional counseling anytime and anywhere. Through this new benefit, members were able to receive one free month of counseling to use in 2022. If more counseling is needed, members receive 15% off monthly BetterHelp sessions.

Crawford County: Farm Safety Awareness

Crawford County Farm Bureau decided to raise awareness of two common farm safety issues to help increase farmer safety in the county. The county Farm Bureau partnered with a local insurance agency to produce road safety yard signs that said, 'Share the road with farmers and farm equipment.’ Volunteers distributed yard signs in the spring and fall to help create awareness of farm equipment on the road during busy seasons. A social media campaign with the same graphics and safety messaging accompanied the project. Reflective safety stickers to adhere to grain bins also were developed and distributed to local farmers to raise awareness of the hazards with entering a grain bin. 

Fayette County: Storytime with a Farmer

Helping children learn where food comes from and who grows it was the goal of Fayette County Farm Bureau’s storytime with a farmer. Having farmers read books about agriculture to children at an elementary school, library and online was a highly effective way to build awareness and understanding of the industry. To help promote the program, a farmer was recorded reading a book about farm equipment from his tractor. This video was shared on YouTube and uploaded to the library website and social media allowing an even broader audience to be reached. A variety of accurate agriculture books were donated to each classroom and library and special activities and mementos were provided for the children. 

Fulton County: Historic 1920s Farm Bureau Office Project

With its sponsorship of a 1920s Farm Bureau office, Fulton County is now part of Sauder Village and museum’s 1920s Main Street program. The Sauder Village project is part of the walk through time experience that replicates a portion of a 1920s Main Street typical to northwest Ohio. It’s estimated the 1920s office will be visited by more than 80,000 people per year where they will learn about how Farm Bureau was created, what Farm Bureau was like in the 1920s and how Farm Bureau is still relevant today. To build the office, the county undertook a large fundraising effort, culminating with a concert by Girl Named Tom, the winners of “The Voice” to reach its fundraising goal. 

Gallia County: Meat your Local Butcher

Meat your local butcher provided Gallia County Farm Bureau members the opportunity to meet the three county butchers who operate in the county and learn from a meat science professor from a local university. The professor explained common practices that are conducted in meat processing facilities and why there can be differences among local county processors. The three local shops/facilities shared about what species they process and the products they carry. 

Geauga County: Amish Safety Day

Geauga County Farm Bureau joined forces with the county sheriff’s office, the State Highway Patrol, a local fire department, the local hospital, Ohio Division of Natural Resources, Soil and Water, and the county engineer’s office to provide an Amish safety day for the community. Geauga County is home to the fourth largest population of Amish in the state. Farm Bureau along with Soil and Water and OSU Extension focused their portion of the program on water quality and road and traffic safety distributing reflective strips, safety vests and slow-moving vehicle signs for buggies, bikes and scooters as well as discussed the new buggy lighting recommendations that took effect in the state in September 2022.

Lucas County: Farm to Table Experience and Policy Development

Lucas County Farm Bureau planned and hosted a farm to table dinner for its annual meeting. The dinner promoted local foods while members discussed Farm Bureau policy and met with board members. The event fostered relationships between local food vendors and Farm Bureau members. It also provided a time for local office holders to meet with members and learn about Farm Bureau policies.

Pike County: Farm State of Mind

This free members only event was held to get the conversation about mental health going in a very natural way. Members were invited to attend a free dinner compliments of Pike County Farm Bureau and local Nationwide agencies as well as OSU Extension, who provided the presentation. County board members served guests a sit-down steak dinner then a short video was shown about farmers struggling with this illness. Literature with hotline numbers was supplied and two farmers talked about the many issues and struggles they face every day with their own farms. The agents also displayed a table with information and gave table favors to all guests. 

Scioto County: Farm Bureau Goes to Market

Farm Bureau goes to market is a series of free events for kids that took place for four consecutive months at local farmers markets. The program goal was to help children understand where their food comes from and use items from the market in the activities. For Mother's Day, kids planted flowers to take home. For Father’s Day, kids made bird feeders. Making a healthy snack was the program for the 4th of July and in August kids made an after school snack. Items were purchased and used from vendors at each of the markets when possible. Scioto County partnered with the local Community Action group in July to provide a $5 coupon for kids to purchase fruits and vegetables to take home.

Wood County: Youth Development through County Fair Showmanship Event

Wood County Farm Bureau planned and hosted a pee-wee beef showmanship contest creating pathways to future involvement for youth in the area. Children participating in the contest ranged from five years old to eight years old. The event fostered mentorship with older junior fair exhibitors, taught showmanship in practice leading up to and the day of the event and created outreach and awareness of both the beef industry and all that Farm Bureau has to offer people of all ages.