Andy was a lifelong farmer, creator of his YouTube channel Harmless Farmer, and motivational speaker sharing his message to “Never Give Up”. Andy was an active member of the Champaign County Fair Board, which spoke to his passion for youth in agriculture and inspired Cindy and Shane to continue his legacy with FFA. The Oelker’s were joined by Andy’s wife Corkey Detwiler and their daughter Kylie Detwiler. Andy, Corkey and Kylie were all four-year members of the West Liberty-Salem chapter of FFA. Shane and Cindy look forward to continuing to share Andy’s story and a jacket with our young ag students for many years to come.
It’s harvest time around the area. For those of us who have grown up in this community, seeing combines on the road this time of year is a normal occurrence. Another common occurrence in many households is participating in 4-H. What some may not know, is the 4-H program was started by a man born here in Champaign County.
Born in 1868, A.B. Graham was raised in a small rural farm until it was destroyed by fire. The family moved right over the county line to Lena, Ohio where Graham graduated before receiving his teaching certificate. Graham began his teaching career in 1868 back in Champaign County, with a particular enthusiasm for teaching young people about agriculture. On January 1902 Graham held the first meeting of the boys and girls club in Springfield. These meetings were the precursor to what is now the 4-H program. In 1905, Graham became the first superintendent of agriculture extension at the Ohio State University. His work with the agriculture extension in Ohio and beyond were instrumental in helping to make the 4-H club nationally recognized. Today the 4-H club has over 6 million members. Thanks to A.B Graham, students have an opportunity to learn about not only agriculture but also a variety of other valuable skills. We are thankful for the lasting legacy A.B Graham has left on our entire community.
The format may have changed but the fun will not. With live music and fresh seafood to eat, you will want to check it out each day.
Freshwater Farms of Ohio is the largest indoor fish hatchery in the state of Ohio. Dr. Dave Smith and his team love to have people come to their farm to see what they all do. Dave also plays a vital role within Champaign County as an investor in our community. Make sure you take the time to check out Freshwater Farms of Ohio and the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival.
Her contributions to the 4-H youth development profession led her to receive the National Distinguished Service Award.
“Ohio 4-H professionals are incredibly talented and work hard to provide outstanding programs for youth. We are proud their efforts are recognized nationally.” stated Dr. Kirk Bloir, State 4-H Leader and Assistant Director of Ohio State University Extension.
Ryan has been the 4-H Extension Educator in Champaign County for 18 years. She serves on the state-wide Workforce Development Team, Animal Science Team, and is Treasurer of the Ohio Extension Professionals. She has taught at several state and national conferences and chaperoned multiple Ohio youth on national trips.
Champaign County has 66 county 4-H clubs with 1,764 youth participants and 208 volunteers.
Each student paid $5 to attend the event as a way to raise money and awareness for the homeless; $185 and some food supplies were collected. All proceeds were donated to The Caring Kitchen. The event opens up students’ eyes to how cold and uncomfortable being homeless is and students take the time to consider how fortunate they are. Realizing that the homeless have to deal with it every night rather than just one night.
We would like to thank our advisor chaperones, Christy Wilhelm for making chicken noodle soup, Joe Jackson for donating pizza, and all the students who participated. It was a great experience and we look forward to doing it again in the future.
UHS grad started life goals early
“As a part of the Ag program, students are required to have a supervised agricultural experience. Justin chose to get a job as his project and started working at Farmer’s Equipment in Urbana his freshman year,” said FFA Advisor Mallory Zachrich. “He started as a basic helper doing simple tasks like cleaning, taking out trash, sweeping floors. From there he flourished with his passion for equipment and mechanics. Justin observed veteran mechanics, took on small tasks, gained experience and trust and took on more and more responsibilities.”
After graduation, Preece attended the Hobart Institute of Welding on several scholarships and earned his welding certifications in 10 months.
Preece explained the steps to success in a recent interview.
“My SAE (supervised agricultural experience) project is working at Farmers Equipment in Urbana,” Preece told Brownfield Ag News for America. “I started working there as a freshman in high school. Over the years I got more and more tasks. It grew from me cleaning, to me assembling new augers and working on new combines. After graduating, I got a full-time position at Farmers Equipment. Now I am the lead technician for our Kubota line. As it goes on, I have learned more and more.”
Preece said his grandfather’s John Deere 3020 sparked his interest as a young child.
“Being around that atmosphere, I always wanted to stick to it. It is what I grew up around,” he said.
According to Zachrich, Preece was extremely active in the FFA chapter at Urbana. He participated in numerous career development competitions, attended several leadership conferences and conventions, served on planning committees, served as an officer and finished out his senior year as the chapter president.
Preece participated in the calf scramble at the Champaign County Fair and showed his calf in 2019.
During Preece’s senior year, he took on a project of restoring a 1951 Farmall H that was donated to the chapter by a former Urbana Ag teacher.
“His hard work has provided the chapter with a beautiful tractor to use at events like Farm Day to give elementary students hay rides and at the annual homecoming parade,” said Zachrich.
Preece was awarded the Champaign County FFA boy of the year award at the 2021 fair.