COLUMBUS – The Ohio Agricultural Council will induct Clarence Cunningham, Neal Schirm, Robert Teater, and John Weaver into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, Aug. 12 at the Rhodes Youth Center at the Ohio State Fair.
The 40th annual Agricultural Hall of Fame breakfast will attract 500 guests to honor these four professionals for their lifetime service, dedication, leadership and contributions to the Ohio agricultural industry.
With bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Ohio State University, Cunningham began his career teaching vocational agricultural at Northwestern High School in Raymond, Ohio, from 1953-1955.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent 1955-1957 in military intelligence.
Following service, he worked as a 4-H extension educator in Pickaway County from 1957-1960, and then went on , holding positions of leader of professional improvement, assistant director of extension, associate director of extension and twice served as acting director of extension.
During much of this time, he was a professor, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in agricultural education and was active in national extension and 4-H associations.
Since retirement in 1998, Cunningham has worked with Prudential Calhoon Company Realtors.
His volunteer contributions include the steering committee for the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, director Wesley Glen Retirement Community, Northwest United Methodist Church, Kiwanis Club of Hilliard, Boy Scouts and Hilliard Public Schools.
Cunningham and his wife, Jane, live in Hilliard. He has two grown sons, Larry and Russell Cunningham.
A native of Wilmore, Ky., Teater holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from University of Kentucky and a master’s and doctorate in agronomy from Ohio State University, where he taught agronomy from 1957-1961.
Teater served as executive assistant to the director and later assistant director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources from 1961-1969 before returning to Ohio State.
As associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics he was also the assistant director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Wooster from 1969-1971.
For the next four years, he served as associate dean and director of the school of natural resources, where he expanded programs, research and extension faculty to build the school from 200 students to more than 800.
He returned to government in 1975 serving as the director of Ohio Department of Natural Resources, guiding Ohio’s extensive facilities, personnel and natural resource management until January 1983.
Following his government service, he founded Robert W. Teater & Associates and led the way on several international natural resource development projects including the creation of a 9,000-acre Muskingum County research and education center for endangered species known as The Wilds.
Additionally, for 32 years Teater served in the Ohio National Guard commanding units throughout the state and the nation, rising to the rank of major general.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star and several other commendations for his military service in Korea.
With broad experience in the military, education, government and administration, Teater was elected for three terms on the Board of Education for Columbus City School, where he served three years as president.
Teater and his wife, Dorothy, have four grown sons David, James, Donald and Andrew and live in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus.
Neal Schirm earned local, state and national recognition as a Jersey cattle breeder, dairy producer and farmer.
Schirm purchased his first Jersey heifer as an FFA project when he was a freshman in high school and invested the next 55 years of his life developing his herd on his family farm near Canal Winchester, Ohio.
Involved in his community and in agriculture statewide, Schirm was the first president of the Ohio Young Farmers Association, served on boards of the Ohio Jersey Breeders Association, Franklin County Farm Bureau, Milk Marking Inc. and the Central Ohio Milk Producers Association.
An innovator, he was one of the founders and original delegates to the Central Ohio Breeders Association.
The Schirm family, Neal’s wife, Mary, and their sons Paul and Larry and daughter Sara worked together on the farm and competed showing their cattle regionally winning many top honors for showmanship, breeding and milk production.
In the mid-1980s, Schirm cattle were producing 18,137 pounds of milk, 763 pounds of fat and 628 pounds of protein and were ranked fourth in the nation.
With the American Jersey Cattle Association headquarters near their farm, the Schirms opened their operation to students, boards and visitors from around the country and world.
Schirm was a delegate to the American Jersey Cattle Association and in 2004 they honored him with their Distinguished Service award.
In the shadows of Columbus, the Schirm homestead is now being developed for housing and is known as the Village at Schirm Farms.
Son Paul continues his father’s herd and tradition in Jerseys in West Salem, Ohio, while 81-year old Neal and his wife live in a housing community near Canal Winchester.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1926, John Weaver has been the driving force behind the success of nationally-recognized egg production facility Weaver Brothers in Versailles, Ohio, since the early 1950s.
Sacrificing a promising career in professional football, Weaver returned to the family business after four years at Miami University, where he led the school to a 9-0 season and a win in the college’s first bowl appearance.
He took the reins as vice president of Weaver Brothers in 1957 and president in 1967, which he held until his retirement in 1991.
During his half century of service to his family firm, the company grew from contract egg production and purchases from small farms in Ohio (approximately 200,000 layers) to an operation that includes 3.5 million layers, a feed mill producing 150,000 tons annually and 2,000 acres of farmland.
A progressive marketer, Weaver was instrumental in the development of the United Egg Production Association, serving as a charter board member and first chair of the organization’s export committee.
Additionally, he was a founding member and president of the American Egg Board, board member and president of the Midwest United Egg Producers and a founding member of the Ohio Egg Marketing Committee.
Active in the community, Weaver founded the Versailles Poultry Days, served on Versailles Village Council for two years, was a member and president of the Versailles Lions Club, a trustee of the United Church of Christ and was named Versailles Citizen of the Year in 1995.
John Weaver and Weaver Brothers remain the only independent family-owned egg marketer in Versailles.
Weaver and his wife, Mary Bell, live near Versailles and have grown children: Tim Weaver, Jill Brown, Collette Weaver and Beth Wheaton.