“I am very thankful for this opportunity,” said Lauran. “I really can’t wait to represent Champaign County not only here, but at other fairs. This is a great feeling.”
Speaking from experience, she explained the importance of learning and trying new ideas even when intimidated.
“Try something new,” she encouraged. “I have tried so many different species and I have had fun with everything. I tried this queen competition and it has really worked out great for me.”
Lauran’s favorite fair memory was the year she competed against her brother in swine showmanship. She remembers they worked as a team, anticipating either one’s win a success. “He ended up beating me, but I was still really proud of him,” she said.
“Swine is my favorite,” she said. “I am really competitive, so I have always had fun being in the competition.”
Lauran is appreciative of the Vernon Funeral Homes staff, her family and friends for making the competition possible.
“They have done so much for us, I couldn’t be here today without them,” she said.
“This feels unreal,” said first runner-up Blakeman, “I never expected this to happen, I did not think I could do it. It took a lot of self-confidence and practice.”
The daughter of Brian Scott and Kelly Blakeman, she is a 2021 Mechanicsburg High School graduate.
Blakeman said that through the competition, she was able to meet new people and make new friends. She said that her journey last year was tough due to COVID-19 and is grateful that restrictions have been lifted.
“The hardest part was when our show rings were blocked off and no one could come to the shows. It was hard. Because of my supporters, I have been able to make the most of my time here.”
Blakeman said her biggest role model is her sister. “She has autism and has taught me to live every moment to the fullest,” she said.
Second runner-up Wilhelm, living in Clark County, said, “Being out of town has been hard, I was born and raised in Champaign County. everyone has been so welcoming and nice to me.”
Wilhelm said Lora Current has been her inspiration, watching her become Champaign County Fair Queen, Ohio’s Fair Queen and current Miss Ohio.
“Even if you’re from a small town,” said Wilhelm, “you can still do big things.”
Daughter of Debra and Bobby McClure and Chris Wilhelm, she will be a senior at Greenon High School.
2020 Champaign County Fair Queen McKenzie Hoewischer
Hoewischer gave words of encouragement as she passed the title of Champaign County Fair Queen to Bailey.
“It feels great to be here after what we went through last year,” said Hoewischer. “The greatest thing I have learned this year is to make the most out of every situation. COVID put a big halt on our lives. My excitement for having a full fair this year is through the roof. Even though I have had a very different experience than most past queens because of COVID, it has made me more motivated to make the most out of every event and fair I visited. ”
The Leadership Champaign County program offers participants in-depth, “behind the scenes” looks at local government, education, and healthcare, among other exclusive opportunities. Participants tour farms, factories, and other local facilities while learning from business owners and community leaders about a wide range of topics. Hands-on activities throughout the program sessions encourage group collaboration and leadership development.
The program meets the third Thursday of every month from September - May. Each full-day session features a different topic; topics include Agriculture, History and Heritage, Education, Economic Development, Government, Healthcare, and Quality of Life.
Applications are available on the Chamber’s website at https://www.champaignohio.com/leadership-champaign-county and will be accepted through September 6. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the Chamber with any questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 937-653-5764.
with broad support, a 96-1 vote, in the House. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Susan Manchester, R-84, and Rep. Mary Lightbody, D-19.
HB 95, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, will authorize tax credits for those who sell or rent farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment to beginning farmers. It also provides a credit for beginning farmers who attend a financial management program.
During her floor speech, Manchester noted that the average age of the U.S. farmer is 58.
“By decreasing their tax burden, House Bill 95 incentivizes retiring farmers to recruit beginning farmers to take over their operations,” Manchester said. “This program also sets beginning farmers up for success by giving them an opportunity to learn more about the financial management of a farm operation.”
Under the bill, the credit is limited to five years and allows up to $10 million for the total amount of tax credits awarded over those five years.
A similar program was implemented in Minnesota in 2018, which has already enabled 162 established farmers to sell or rent land to beginning farmers and allocated $1.4 million in tax credits.
During testimony, Bennett and Liza Musselman, part-owners and operators of Musselman Farms in Pickaway County, said, “Farm Service Agency provides opportunities for young and beginning farmers, but the time that it takes from application to loan closing is significantly longer than a traditional loan.
“Young farmers have an added obstacle of finding a seller that is willing to wait additional days for a sale to be completed. The passage of HB 95 will give a financial incentive for sellers to work with a young beginning farmer, and thus help level the playing field.”
To qualify, a beginning farmer would have to intend to farm in Ohio, or have been farming in Ohio for less than 10 years, have a household net worth of less than $800,000, provide the majority of the day-to-day labor for and management of the farm, have adequate farming experience or demonstrate adequate knowledge about farming, and participate in a financial management program approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
In a statement following the bill’s passage, Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association policy director, said, “Young farmers in Ohio are taking on the risks inherent in farming and working hard to build successful farm businesses. They are also facing significant obstacles that require creative policy solutions.
“Access to — and securing tenure on — affordable, high-quality farmland is the No. 1 challenge young farmers are facing. At the same time, millions of acres of farmland are changing hands as older farmers consider retirement and sale of their land. House Bill 95 provides an important bridge between landowners and those seeking land.”
The bill has support of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, and Ohio Soybean Association.
Lipstreu added, “The past year illustrated, in stark terms, the vulnerability of our food system. We must take the steps necessary to ensure that those interested in providing what is a paramount service to society — contributing to our food supply — are successful. We call upon the Senate to act by introducing and passing a companion bill in the coming weeks so that this bill is ready for the governor’s signature before the summer recess.”
FFA members got the opportunity of the full five days of camp and being split into groups, numbered from 1-12. Camp offered many opportunities for campers this year, from workshops, camp activities, a talent show, group activities and dances on the first and last night. The camp also had different activities and workshops for juniors, seniors and grads. The first morning, before breakfast, campers had the opportunity to plunge into the lake in what we call the Polar Bear Plunge. The campers also had the opportunity of doing a morning walk or run. These events get campers a various amount of points for their team. During camp, teams competed for points from those everyday activities and found out who was the winner at the end of camp week.
The day of arrival, members settled into their dorms, got introduced to other camp chapter members, learned camp rules, and participated in little activities to become more involved with other campers and the State FFA Officers. The day ended with a campfire challenging campers to step out of their comfort zone and change their daily routine a little bit.
The second day included group activities, state officer workshops, and high ropes for seniors and grads. Each day at camp, campers were given about two or three free time periods. In these free time periods, they could participate in archery, going to the shotgun/rifle range, playing cards, and canoeing/kayaking. Ending the day was a campfire and campers reflecting on the things they learned in the workshop and from fellow campers.
The third and fourth day included team building activities, various activities campers signed up for and were interested in. These activities included laser tag, hiking, archery, line dancing lessons, shotgun/rifle range, playing cards, playing ping pong, canoeing and kayaking. Later on in the day, campers participated in water games and State Officers workshops. The day once again ended with a campfire challenging campers to use their strengths to an advantage to try new things and meet new people.
The five days of camp ended with assigned morning cleaning of the camp, rewarding of highest boy and girl challenges, the top five highest camp groups points earned, and appreciation to the FFA Advisors, Camp Staffing, and State Officers. The State Officers also gave shout-outs to specific camp groups or campers. The shout-outs were for the change or impact they had seen on specific groups or campers in the five days attended.
Faith’s favorite part of camp was “participating and learning new things for the first time at the shooting range.” Jason and Travis’ favorite part of camp was “fishing and talking to other campers during free time.” Layne’s favorite part of camp was “having the opportunity to pie our advisor Mr. Wilhelm in the face.” Phoebie’s favorite part was “being able to meet new people, playing laser tag, and participating in high ropes.”
Longtime advisor Neer honored
By Dani Schipfer - Mechanicsburg FFA Reporter- Submitted to Urbana Daily Citizen
MECHANICSBURG – On Friday, May 14, the Mechanicsburg Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter hosted its 2020-2021 banquet.
During the banquet, there were refreshments as well as treats provided by Mr. Kindle, the Mechanicsburg High School science teacher.
There was also a silent auction with goods donated by many of the Mechanicsburg FFA Booster members.
The banquet was held to honor and recognize the accomplishments of the chapter members from this past school year. Due to the cancellation of the 2020 FFA Banquet, we also recognized some of the accomplishments from the previous school year.
The Meats, General Livestock, Dairy and Soil judging teams all received awards for their placings at this year’s state contests. Most of the members also advanced in their status of their FFA degrees. We had several members that went through a long application process to receive their State FFA degree.
The people from the Mechanicsburg chapter who received their state degrees last year and were recognized this year were: Mallory Blakeman, Grace Forrest, Morgan Heizer, McKenze Hoewischer, Cori Kent, Luke Stroud, Emma Violet and Jennifer Wallace. This year the chapter had one recipient of the State FFA Degree and that was Elyse Wilson.
Throughout the night the top individuals in each class were recognized. The Star Greenhand, Star Chapter, Outstanding Junior and Outstanding Senior were given to students who went above and beyond throughout the past year.
The Star Greenhand Award was given to Taylor Rausch and Hannah Dingledine. The Star Chapter Award was presented to Lilly Marsh.
The Outstanding Junior Award recipient was Elyse Wilson, and the Outstanding Senior Awards were presented to Grace Forrest and McKenze Hoewischer. There were also four students, one per grade level, who received a leadership award.
The Freshmen Leadership Award was given to Hannah Dingledine. The Sophomore Leadership Award was given to Dani Schipfer. The Junior Leadership Award recipient was Natalie Tull and the Senior Leadership Award was presented to Kaylee Warfield.
Lastly, the chapter’s officers, members and advisors recognized Kevin Neer for his many years of service and dedication to the Mechanicsburg FFA Chapter. Neer worked at Mechanicsburg High School for 35 years. While working he taught history, business and agriculture. He coached basketball at Mechanicsburg for a number of years as well as coached several CDE teams for the Mechanicsburg FFA Chapter.
Over the course of five years, he brought home 12 state banners for the Mechanicsburg FFA Chapter.
Neer had a huge impact on the Mechanicsburg FFA Chapter and rightfully deserved the recognition.
The chapter made the most of the new circumstances and honored all those deserving of recognition for their hard work, successes and contributions to the chapter.
The chapter would like to thank all who helped make this year a success including Dr. Billy Ayars, the FFA Boosters, all the donors and many more. The chapter would also like to wish all of the seniors good luck in their future endeavors.
From Urbana Daily Citizen
The Champaign County Friends of 4-H are sponsoring an Egg Your Yard fundraiser for the Champaign County 4-H Food, Fashion and Creative Arts Board.
4-H members will scatter candy-filled eggs in yards within Champaign County from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 3, for children to find on Easter Sunday morning.
Provide your name, address, phone number and check ($20 for 25 eggs and $35 for 50 eggs) payable to the Champaign County 4-H FCS Committee by Friday, April 2, to the Champaign County Extension Office, 1512 S. U.S. Hwy 68, Suite B100, Urbana, OH 43078.
From Urbana Daily Citizen
Michael Family Farms has acquired the former site of Urbana Local and plans to construct an agricultural facility on the land at the intersection of state Route 54 and Hickory Grove Road.
The property was auctioned off by Urbana City Schools district for $75,000 after new schools were constructed.
The old school site will be home to two former students’ farming business.
Siblings Kyle Michael and Kathy Michael Sponheim purchased the former site and plan on starting construction this month on the 40,000-square-foot facility.“ We have recently been able to expand our operation in Champaign County,” said Sponheim in a prepared statement. “We have picked up some land and continue to look for additional irrigated acres to increase production. Demand continues to rise for locally grown food that is good for you, and our potatoes provide a delicious, nutritious, addition to any meal.”
Potatoes are the main fare of the agri-business venture, which is rooted in family.
“We are thrilled to be able to build two stateof- the-art potato storages and a grading facility to support our growth. The controlled atmospheric storages will hold 1 million pounds of potatoes that will be distributed to grocery stores across Ohio and surrounding states throughout the year,” Sponheim said. “The location is ideal for business but also holds special sentiment as our father Todd also attended grade school at Local as part of Urbana City Schools. With this facility, we will be able to better support a localized supply chain to deliver fresh produce with fewer food miles from farm to fork.”
Sponheim said growing a family business has its challenges. “However we feel very fortunate to be able to do what we love and do it together,” she said.
Todd has been active in the potato industry for decades and the passion for farming and agriculture was nurtured in Kyle and Kathy from a young age. Now taking over the operation, Kyle and Kathy plan to continue that legacy. Kyle recently was reappointed to serve on the U.S. Potato Board, following in both his father and grandfather’s footsteps.
“Our philosophy at Michael Family Farms is driven by putting family first; after that we are committed to growing the business, sustainable cropping practices and delivering complete service to our customers,” Sponheim said.