The Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer is well over half-way to our goal of attending 22 of Ohio’s county fairs. Last week, we conducted our outreach and education program at the Champaign, Athens, and Holmes County fairs. All the counties we have visited so far have all been very different. Some counties have been very rural others are more urban, but every county offers a unique experience.
The Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer is officially more than halfway through our 22 county fair schedule! Last week, we were at the Greene County fair slightly southwest of Columbus. We were lucky enough to be set up inside the Assembly Hall, out of the blistering sun, and surrounded by 4-H and FFA youth projects on display. Brad and I spoke to these bright students, many of which we are confident will be the next generation’s leaders in the bioeconomy. As we explained the emerging need for biobased products, we attracted many farmers to our table.
The week of July 22nd through the 28th, was particularly busy for the Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer county fair tour. We started out the week in Knox County, where we met Larry Hall, a 4H Youth Development Educator with the Knox County Extension office. Larry has dedicated his life to educating Ohio’s youth about agriculture, leadership, and conservation. He told us about the fundraising campaign he is helping to organize so that the Knox County fairgrounds can build an expansion to be used as a teaching area for conservation and agricultural education.
Although we have been visiting county fairs across all corners of Ohio this summer, on July 19th, we had a short drive from campus to the Franklin County Fair in Hilliard. Franklin County offered a diverse audience of fair goers to participate in the Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer program. Although the fairgrounds are located in the largely suburban town of Hilliard, Franklin County residence from urban Columbus, and rural areas to the south and west of the city were in attendance.
The Ohio Soy Sustainable has been in full swing. The week of July 8th through the 14th we attended 3 of Ohio’s 88 county fairs. On Wednesday, we headed down to Wilmington, Ohio for the Clinton County fair. After attending their fair, it became obvious that Clinton County was rich with agriculture. We were set up near the junior swine show, which allowed us to speak with many local farmers about the commodity marketing opportunities associated with the bioeconomy.
Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve. That is the motto of the National FFA Organization, and the way FFA members approach a challenge. The National FFA Organization is one of the largest youth organizations in the country, with 653,359 members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This summer, we had the opportunity to travel to Ohio FFA Camp Muskingum in Carrollton, Ohio for all 5 sessions of camp, to facilitate some activities with Ohio FFA members.
The second stop on the Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer (OSSS) was the Pickaway County Fair. It was a beautiful day – full of sunshine and a slight breeze to cool the fairgoers, and OBIC Student Assistant, Brad Collins and I. This time, we set up near the fair’s entrance, alongside other booths such as the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Pickaway County Health Department. Being near the fair’s entrance allowed us an opportunity to speak with people entering and exiting the fair throughout the day.
The Ohio Soy Sustainable Summer is in full swing as OBIC student assistants, Brad Collins and Shivani Patel, visited the Paulding County Fair recently. Pulling into the Paulding County fairgrounds, we were greeted by Sarah Noggle, an OSU Extension Educator. She was extremely enthusiastic about our program and helped us feel as if we were at home in Paulding County. We set up the Sustainable World Tour (SWT) van outside of Acres of Fun – an indoor entertainment area filled with fun and educational booths for people to check out at their leisure.
In collaboration with the Ohio Soybean Council, the OBIC Bioproducts Innovation Center will be hitting the road this summer to attend 22 different Ohio county fairs, as well as all five sessions of Ohio FFA Camp, Muskingum.