Students from Cincinnati Schools and Supportive Community Members tour Darke and Mercer County Agriculture, the Largest Food Production Area of Ohio
VERSAILLES—FFA students from Cincinnati Public Schools toured agriculture facilities in Darke and Mercer Counties. This is the largest food production area in Ohio and one of the largest in the country. The tour was sponsored by the Agriculture Education Foundation in coordination with the Cincinnati 4-H Initiative and the Farm to Church Agricultural Project.
The tour began with Weaver Eggs. Students were able to learn about food production directly from Ohio’s agriculture leaders and experience agriculture firsthand. As part of the tour, the Agriculture Education Foundation was presented with a contribution from Weaver Eggs that served as funding for the project and allows the organization to increase scholarship opportunities for future agriculture teachers.
Mr. Aaron Parker, agriculture teacher at Aiken High School thanked the agriculture community and extended an invitation to come see the farm that is being developed at Aiken High School.
Coordinating the tour were former State Representative Dale Mallory and Duane Harmon. Their efforts engaged agri-science teachers throughout the city to gather the youth and coordinate with the school district.
In agriculture country, former Representative Jim Buchy connected the youth with the agriculture leaders. Lisa Kahlig of Cooper Farms presented to the students. Tom Menke and former Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture Jim Zehringer, both members of the Agriculture Education Foundation Board, addressed the youth regarding career potentials in agriculture. Students also had an opportunity to interact with agriculture students and staff from Central State University, an 1890 Land Grant Institution.
Cincinnati leaders reminded everyone that this is a small part of the partnership being formed between Ohio’s western agriculture leaders and the growing agriculture movement in Cincinnati. Bishop Steven Scott joined the youth on the bus. Bishop Scott remarked, “Today starts the beginning of a meaningful and overdue agriculture project that will reshape and stabilize the inner core of our metropolitan area. This project will assist several of our distressed communities. The project is a collaboration of Faith-Based organizations and the private sector.” He said they call the project “The Farm to Church Agricultural Project” with the goal of ending food deserts.
These efforts revolve around the need to provide nourishment to the human body to allow for the spiritual nourishment that is forthcoming. Dale Mallory, echoed Bishop Scott, “This is only the beginning of a historic effort with a comprehensive plan for the inner urban core.”
The Agriculture Education Foundation is chaired by former State Representative Jim Buchy. The foundation was formed in 2017 to encourage agriculture education in the city. The foundation points to the need for more agriculture educators to backfill the known shortage of agriculture teachers in Ohio. Specifically, a successful pilot program with agriculture in schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati demonstrated that agriculture education is a component to increasing graduation rates. The foundation knows this success is garnered from the values naturally instilled by agriculture. The success of the programs are inherently tied to the educators leading the programs. The foundation will identify and promote agriculture educators that further enhance the mission of agriculture in the city. The mission of the foundation is to promote agricultural education accessibility and support agriculture educators by connecting those in action with resources for success.