Annual Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium recognizes sheep producers

Dr. Farabee and Joy McCarthy hold their Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award at the 2023 Buckeye Shepherd's Symposium on Dec. 2. (Liz Partsch photo)

WOOSTER, Ohio — A University of Findlay professor was recently honored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program for his contributions to growing educational opportunities within the sheep industry.

This year’s Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award went to Dr. Farabee and Joy McCarthy for their work as a family raising sheep on their farm in Sycamore, Ohio as well as Farabee’s work as a professor at the University of Findlay.

“I don’t do things to try to be recognized, it’s just not in my nature, (but) it’s certainly very nice to be recognized,” Farabee said. “It’s really nice to have other people know what you do, particularly what I do with the university. I like to see how students grow. I like to contribute to that.”

The McCarthys were among several individuals recognized for their work in the sheep and wool industry at the 2023 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, held Dec. 2 at the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center in Wooster.

McCarthy family

Farabee has had sheep since he was 14 years old living in Findlay, Ohio. He had sheep up until college, where he attended Ohio State University for a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Michigan State University for a Ph.D. in Animal Husbandry.

After graduating he took a job in Virginia for a few years until he decided it was time to come back home to Ohio.

Farabee started working as an associate professor and Chair of Animal and Pre-Veterinary Studies at the University of Findlay in 2002. Since then, Farabee has been involved in growing the university’s Animal Science Industry program.

“It was a pretty small program when I got there,” Farabee said. “Since then, we’ve grown significantly with a lot of other people’s help to be able to get there.”

Before the program existed, in 2002, they had about 60 students enrolled in the Pre-Veterinarian Medicine Degree program. Now, they have roughly 600 students enrolled in the Animal Science Industry program.

The hands-on program aims for students to learn management practices and the scientific nature of animal production. The programs are based at the university farm known as the Dr. C. Richard Beckett Animal Science Building, where they have cows, mules, sheep and goats.

Dr. Farabee McCarthy holds the Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award surrounded by his family at the 2023 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on Dec. 2. (Liz Partsch photo)

The Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service and is presented to a sheep producers “who has made substantial contributions to the sheep industry and its organizations in Ohio,” according to the OSIA. 

Nominees must raise sheep as part of their farming operations. Farabee also raises Dorset sheep with his wife and family.

Friend of the Ohio Sheep Industry Awards

This year’s recipients of the Friend Of Ohio Sheep Industry Awards went to Cathann Kress, dean of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Dr. Cathann Kress (right) holds her award with Roger High. (Submitted photo)

Kress has been a longtime advocate for the Ohio Sheep and Lamb Industry, carefully evaluating and hiring the newest OSU sheep specialist, John Foltz, after Roger High retired from the position in 2016.

Throughout his time at the Ohio Farm Bureau, Sharp has overseen numerous operations including state and federal government relations, legislative and regulatory affairs, legal, animal and food issues and more.

Sharp has also worked to maintain the Farm Bureau’s partnership with the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, OSIA and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program.

To do so, he hired High as a sub-contractor, after he retired from OSU to work in OSIA/OSWP. Additionally, Sharp helps OSIA/OSWP with accounting, printing and mailing needs.

“It’s been a great partnership for a long time,” Sharp said. “It’s been my pleasure, especially as I’ve moved into this role, to keep this partnership going because it’s important for the industry and an important industry for the state. We want to be able to support that.”

Adam Sharp holds his Friend Of Ohio Sheep Industry Award at the 2023 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on Dec. 2. (Liz Partsch photo)

Distinguished Service

The recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production, was Becky Sexten, of Xenia, Ohio. 

Sexten has served on the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program Board of Directors for nine years. Due to term limits, she will not be able to run again next year, but her contributions were significant during her time on the board of directors, which earned her the award.

Youth awards

Several youth recipients were also recognized at the ceremony including Chloe Heidlebaugh, Linsey Eddy, Kaitlyn Zeedyk, Adeline Kendle and Bailee Amstutz.

Heidlebaugh, of Hancock County, was recognized as the 2023-24 Ohio Lamb and Wool Ambassador. She has been involved for several years in producing and showing market lambs and breeding sheep at the county, state and national levels. She was also the recipient of the Ralph Grimshaw Memorial Scholarship Award.

Eddy, of Union County, was the recipient of the Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship Award. He has been involved in showing market lambs and sheep in 4-H competitions and helping with his family’s breeding sheep operation.

Zeedyk, of Defiance County, is the recipient of the High Family Memorial Scholarship Award and has shown market lambs at county, state and national competitions.

Kendle, of Tuscarawas County, received the OSIA LEAD Council Scholarship Award for her work in 4-H competitions showing market lambs and breeding sheep as well as her activities in OSIA LEAD Council. She is also a student at the University of Findlay.

Amstutz, of Union County, received the 2023 State FFA Sheep Proficiency Award. She was also named the winner of the National Sheep Proficiency Award in Indianapolis. She’s currently a student a Butler Community College.

(Reporter Liz Partsch can be reached at or 330-337-3419.)


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