Irv and Jean Bell honored for lifetime leadership


COLUMBUS — During its annual meeting Dec. 3, the Ohio Farm Bureau honored Irv and Jean Bell, of Muskingum County, with its Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.

The Bells run a hog, cow-calf and grain farm with their son Matt and his wife Melissa. They received a statewide Conservation Farm Family Award in 2007 as well as the Ohio Pork Industry Stewardship Award and the Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award.

Following college, Irv Bell served in the U.S. Navy from 1968-1972, and was an Ohio State University Extension educator in both Pickaway and Jackson counties before returning to Bell Farms. He is a past OFBF president, 40-year member of Muskingum County Farm Bureau and currently a member of the Nationwide Insurance board of directors. He is a former board member of the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Livestock Coalition and Production Credit Association.

A member of Ohio State University’s Animal Science Hall of Fame and Ohio Ag Hall of Fame, he also received the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, and was inducted into the Muskingum County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame.

Jean Bell, who taught Spanish at West Muskingum High School for 25 years, is active in the Ohio State University Alumni Club of Muskingum County, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Delta Kappa Gamma educational service organization and Muskingum County Farm Bureau. She was on the board of the Ohio Pork Producers Council from 2008-2011 and also on the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board which she chaired for three years.

Ag educators

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Stephanie Gompf Jolliff, pictured with her son Masen, received the Ohio Farm Bureau’s Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award. Also pictured are OFBF President Steve Hirsch (left) and Executive Vice President Jack Fisher.

Stephanie Gompf Jolliff, of Hardin County, received the Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award, which also was presented posthumously to Joseph Slone, of Preble County. A Ridgemont High School FFA agricultural educator, Jolliff led the Ridgemont FFA to back-to-back titles as Ohio’s No. 1 FFA chapter, and winner of the National FFA Model of Innovation award. She is president of the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators, Ohio VFW Teacher of the Year, and has secured more than $250,000 in grants to build her agricultural education program.

Slone, who died in March 2014, was a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at National Trail High School. He received an Honorary American FFA degree, as well as the Honorary state FFA degree for his passion for his students and agriculture. He was a 31-year member of the Preble County Farm Bureau.

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The late Joseph Slone was honored posthumously with the Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award. His son Justin, who is in his first year of teaching agriculture, and daughter, Jessica Helsinger, who is in her seventh year teaching vo-ag, accepted the award on their father’s behalf.

Over the years, Slone mentored five Ohio FFA state officers (seven state officer candidates), two national proficiency finalists, two star state degree finalists and numerous state and district proficiency finalists and winners. There have been about 65 state degree recipients and over 25 American degree recipients over his tenure.

Top counties

Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties, all led by Organizational Director Michele Specht, each received Ohio Farm Bureau’s President’s Award, which goes to counties with the greatest accomplishments in member strength, member advocacy and member engagement. Winners were announced Dec. 3.

Member Advocacy Excellence Gold Award winners were Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties. Silver Award winners were Holmes, Knox, Medina and Shelby counties. Bronze Award winners were Crawford, Franklin, Muskingum and Preble counties.

Member Engagement Excellence Gold Award winners were Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties. Silver Award winners were Hardin, Medina, Morgan and Muskingum counties. Bronze Award winners were Logan, Muskingum and Paulding counties.

Member Strength Excellence Gold Award winners were Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties. Silver Award winners were Auglaize, Holmes, Jefferson and Knox counties. Bronze Award winners were Coshocton, Harrison, Knox and Medina counties.

Collaboration Awards were presented to counties that excelled in programming done in cooperation with other county Farm Bureaus. This year Collaboration Awards were awarded to Carroll, Cuyahoga, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties for their “Farmtastic Agventures Google Hangouts.”

Franklin and Pickaway counties worked together on the “Agricultural Technical Rescue, Grain Bin Rescue” program while Carroll, Hancock, Harrison, Jefferson, Putnam and Tuscarawas counties collaborated on the “Oil and Water Do Mix” oil and gas/ water quality/ nutrient management county exchange program.

Young leaders

Matt and Liz Funderburgh of North Lewisburg were elected chair couple of the Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professional Advisory Team. Kyle and Ashton Walls, of Mount Vernon, were elected co-chairs, and Terri Specht of Johnstown was elected secretary.

Other team members are Greg and Theresa Corcoran of Chillicothe, Eric and Shelly Prysi of New Philadelphia, Doug Toops of South Vienna, Karl Wedemeyer of La Rue and Jennifer Wilson of Jenera.


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