Jefferson County couple wins Ohio Farm Bureau’s young farmer award


COLUMBUS — A Jefferson County couple who has tweaked a successful farm business to stay profitable and in business was lauded as Outstanding Young Farm Couple last week during the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation‘s annual meeting.

Robert and Autumn Morrison of Bloomingdale will represent Ohio next month at the national contest during the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The award recognizes individuals or couples 35 or younger for their accomplishments in their farming operations and their leadership in the agricultural community.

The Morrisons are the fourth-generation owners and operators of Land of Hills Farm in eastern Ohio, specializing in registered black Angus cows, stocker calves, custom grazing services, natural freezer beef and specialty crops including corn, pumpkins, gourds and cornstalks.

In addition to increasing farm production, the Morrisons have a goal of building a love of the farm in their two young daughters, Emma and Kaitlyn.

The couple served on the State Young Farmer Committee from 2005 to 2007, including one term as vice chair couple.

Both are active in numerous Jefferson County Farm Bureau committees, and Robert has served as the county president, vice president and as a county board member.

“There was some really tough competition,” Bob Morrison said, noting they were impressed with the progress and involvement of every competitor.

“This win is the pinnacle of the young farmer program for us,” he said.

The Morrisons received a $1,000 purchase certificate at Grainger Industrial Supply, a year’s free lease on a Kubota M-series tractor, $500 from Dodge and a $250 product voucher to any NAPA store.

They also received a commemorative chime clock from Ohio Farm Bureau.


Katy Endsley of Pickerington won the Excellence in Agriculture Award, which recognizes successful people 35 or younger who are involved in farming but whose primary occupations are not farming or owning an agricultural business.

Endsley serves as program manager for the Ohio FFA Association and guides and directs the Ohio FFA officer team. Previously, she served as the chief of the division of markets for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Katy and her husband, Chad, breed and sell miniature donkeys and assist in family farming and forage operations.

She has taken an active role in Fairfield County Farm Bureau, serving on an advisory council and helping secure contributions for the Farm Bureau Barn on the county fairgrounds.

The Endsleys are parents of a six-month-old daughter, Caroline.

“The great thing about agriculture is that we all come from different areas, but all have a common bond,” Endsley said.

Endsley received a $1,000 technology package and a commemorative chime clock, a John Deere Gator and $500 cash from Dodge.

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Discussion meet

Wendy Chrisman of Jewett in Harrison County was named the winner of the 2008 Discussion Meet.

The annual contest tests participants’ subject knowledge, problem-solving abilities and personal and small group communications skills.

Finalists discussed how land grant universities remain on the forefront of an ever-changing agricultural environment and how members can correct the misconceptions of Farm Bureau.

Chrisman and her husband, Damian, sell custom processed beef and lamb from their farm, where they harvest hay, soybeans, wheat and corn in addition to raising ewes, cows and heifers.

The former agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser has served as a Farm Bureau advisory council chairperson and is a teacher at Indian Valley High School.

The Chrismans have two children, Corey and Alexandra.

Aside from a trip to the national competition, she also received $1,000 courtesy of Nationwide Insurance, $500 courtesy of Dodge Trucks and a chime clock from Ohio Farm Bureau.

Service award

The organization also honored Cynthia Hollingshead with its Distinguished Service Award for her years of service to the organization and agriculture in the state.

Hollingshead, who retires in April as executive assistant, has been with the Farm Bureau for 38 years.

“I’ve been through three office buildings, two executive vice presidents, 10 state presidents and 104 board of trustees members,” Hollingshead reflected.

“Most of all, I will miss the people,” she said.

New president

Brent Porteus of Coshocton County was confirmed by county delegates as the 22nd president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Porteus fills the office vacated by Bob Peterson of Sabina, who stepped down after nearly five years at the helm.

Porteus has served as the farm group’s treasurer and most recently as the organization’s first vice president. He is also trustee for District 12, representing members from Coshocton, Holmes, Knox and Licking counties.

He and his wife, Debbie, are the parents of two children. He farms with his father, brother and daughters, producing crops and beef cattle.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in ag economics, Porteus is also past president of the Ohio Corn Growers Association and past chairman of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program.

Steve Hirsch of Chillicothe was elected first vice president, and Keith Truckor of Metamora was elected treasurer.

Outgoing leader

The Farm Bureau also honored outgoing president Bob Peterson of Fayette County, who chose to not seek re-election.

Peterson was first elected to the state board in 1995 and had served as treasurer, first vice president and eventually the 21st president of the organization. He was also a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s board of directors representing the Midwest region.

Peterson pointed out that since the 1940s, the Farm Bureau has had only one president lead more than five years, and that he felt it was his time to step aside.

“We shouldn’t hog these positions, we should share them,” he said.

Peterson, who farms with his father and brother and also serves as a county commissioner, said he looks forward to spending more time on the home farm. As an elected trustee, he will continue to serve on the state board for two more years.


Trustees re-elected to the Farm Bureau board include Sparky Weilnau; Bob Slicker; William Lowe; Steve Hess; Randy Leis and Patty DeBruin.

New to the board is Allen Miller, representing Belmont, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties. Miller replaces Merlin Wentworth.

Special awards

Several members from across the state were applauded by the state organization for their diligence in signing at least 10 new members this year. In addition, three men — John Brooks of Huron County; Dwight Clary of Seneca County; and Milton Ring of Ashtabula County — received the Murray Lincoln Award for signing at least 50 new members.

The state presented Presidents Awards to the top five counties, classified by overall membership figures, for outstanding programming. Those awards went to Pike, Carroll, Richland, Tuscarawas and Mahoning counties.

Warren County’s entry for this year’s statewide Growing A Masterpiece art competition topped all entries. For the project, artists in each county decorated a cowboy hat to depict agriculture within the county and state.

Roughly 12,000 votes were cast on the Our Ohio Web site and at events throughout the state to determine the winner. Second place went to Mahoning County and third place went to Wyandot County.

Literature matters

Wisconsin dairy farmer Cris Peterson picked up her fifth Children’s Literature Award from the Farm Bureau for her latest book, Clarabelle — Making Milk and So Much More.

The award honors an author whose work embodies an agricultural theme and contributes to American literature.

Peterson also won the award in 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2006.

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