By DOUG GRAVES
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There’s competition in just about everything these days, even among the 2,800 county Farm Bureaus across the nation. Ohio’s captured eight of the 24 County Activities of Excellence (CAE) awards presented in November by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
The awards celebrate unique local, volunteer-driven programming and serve as models of innovation. The CAE program categorizes county activities into the following areas: education and ag promotion, member services, public relations and information, leadership development and policy implementation.
The winning counties win a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in New Orleans this month.
The AFBF received more than 100 entries across all membership categories, with only 24 activities nationwide selected to show at the convention.
“Once again, Ohio has more CAE winners than any other state,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau director of leadership programming. “We are always proud of the country Farm Bureau programming in Ohio, but we are thrilled to see 11 counties recognized at the American Farm Bureau level.”
Belmont County’s Farm Bureau partnered with KFC and a local Ford dealership to provide a free thank-you dinner called “Veteran’s Salute” to military veterans while working with the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Fayette County held a “Celebrity Chef Competition,” allowing local chefs to participate in a fun competition to show their recipe development skills and cooking abilities. Cooks had to use seasonal produce from local growers.
Jefferson County’s effort was ChickQuest, allowing third-grade students to carry out STEM experiments while caring for chicks from incubation to birth. More than 800 students in 33 classrooms participated.
Lucas County held a nutrient management meeting, bringing farmers, researchers and educators together to better understand agriculture’s impact on water quality in the area.
For Noble County, it was Ag School Days. In this effort fourth-grade students were invited from two counties, and the 800 children involved studied all aspects of corn and the varieties of this crop.
Pike County held its Rural Family Safety Day, illustrating the importance of various safety challenges faced every day. Rural crime, food, animals, ATVs, sun protection, fire safety and grain bin rescues were among the topics.
Wood County held its “Crafting Cocktails with Herbs” effort with classroom study in a greenhouse. There, attendees learned the tools needed to grow a successful herb garden and a mixologist demonstrated how to use these herbs in cocktails. In doing so, this Farm Bureau gained new members and expanded knowledge and awareness about horticulture and agriculture.
Butler, Preble, Hamilton and Montgomery counties spearheaded their “Farm Safety IS a Big Deal” program, which provided a well-rounded education about farm safety to three age levels.
Applications become available in June for county Farm Bureaus to enter the 2019 CAE awards program. For more information, go to www.fb.org/programs