RAVENNA, Ohio – Portage County Farm Bureau, known for keeping its honorees’ names under wraps until the last moment, surprised another member at this year’s annual banquet.
The group celebrated Gordon Weber’s lifetime of agriculture by giving him its annual Distinguished Service award.
His farming roots go back to 1927 when he moved to a farm in Atwater, Ohio, with his parents. They milked cows and grew crops for decades.
Meanwhile, Weber went to college, began teaching science, coaching the wrestling team and serving as a guidance counselor, all in the Ravenna School System. He met his wife, Phyllis, at Akron University and together they managed the farm, juggled each of their teaching jobs and raised four children.
In 1960, they switched to raising beef cattle and grain. Now that the couple is retired and enjoys traveling, they’ve traded cattle for growing beans and Christmas trees.
Weber estimates they’ve been involved with Farm Bureau for 30-35 years. He served as president for three of those years.
Remembering. Members paused to remember a prior Distinguished Service award winner who passed away in May.
Helen Gless received the honor two years ago and was serving as the promotion and education chairman at the time of her death. Gless had been active in Farm Bureau for more than 31 years and her obituary included that she had an “amazing ability at attracting new members.”
“She had such an excitement for agriculture,” state trustee Jeff Zellers told the group. “That’s the kind of passion we need.”
Her committee still managed to pick up a Star award for its achievements. This meant all 10 committees again won the award.
Star awards also went to Bob Ebie, government affairs; Bob Winkler, safety; Gail Boldizsar, advisory council; Kelly Clavecilla, youth; Eleanor McConnell, information; Peg and Ken Royer and Debbie Heasley, membership; Wes Rutledge and Sue Kline, ag ecology; Bill Boldizsar, policy development; and Fred Neiss, Nationwide sponsorship.
McConnell was also recognized for her long-term position as information chairperson. This was her last year in that role.
President Linda Neiss was honored for having her county receive the highest number of Star awards possible. She also received the Golden Tractor, recognizing that Portage County Farm Bureau had a more than 50-member gain in the last year.
Seventy-eight new members were added this year, bringing the county total to 2,640.
Getting approval. Members voted to approve a policy that would create “farmer protection signs,” such as “This is a working farm, not a petting zoo.” These would encourage parents to think before letting their children pet farm animals, said Bill Boldizsar, policy development chairman.
Policies were also passed to support slower speed limits on township roads and better supervision over farmers who plant their fields near road intersections.
In national policies, members want to encourage railroad cars to use the same reflective safety tape that farm equipment and the trucking industry use.
They also voted to support improved trade options with Central America.
Looking ahead. The 2005-2006 committee chairmen include Bob Ebie, government affairs; Bob Winkler, safety; Fred Neiss, advisory council; Kelly Clavecilla, youth; Peg and Ken Royer and Debbie Heasley, membership; Elaine Wagner, promotion and education; Sue Kline, agricultural ecology; Bill Boldizsar, policy development; and Cal Brant, Nationwide sponsorship.
Trustees were also elected for two-year terms. They include Fred Ahrens, Wayne Biltz, Gail Boldizsar, Cal Brant, Jay Goodell and Ken Royer.
Delegates to the 2006 state annual meeting are Bob and Midge Ebie and Fred Neiss.
Scholarship winner Shelby Tomlinson thanked the group for her Farm Bureau scholarship. Matthew Dutko also received a scholarship, however he was not present at the banquet.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)