SMITHVILLE, Ohio – When the Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association held its annual meeting at the Old School House Restaurant at the Wayne County Schools Career Center, it was only fitting that the two individuals who were honored by the group were also associated with the school.
Friends award. Robert Bercaw of Wooster was presented with the group’s 2004 Friend of Sheep Award in recognition of his support of the industry and interest in preparing and cooking lamb.
Bercaw oversees the Food Service Training program at the Wayne County Schools Career Center in Smithville.
In addition to teaching the students how to prepare lamb for the group’s banquet, Bercaw’s students will be demonstrating lamb preparation during the 2004 Wayne County Fair.
History. Bercaw started in the food service industry following his graduation from Colonel Crawford High School when he went to work as a store manager for the Isaly Company.
He transferred to Wooster to manage the Wooster store and later the opportunity to purchase the store which became known as The Parlor Restaurant.
The restaurant gained national attention for its creation of the world’s largest sundae, a record it retained for seven years.
Following the sale of the restaurant in 1981, Bercaw assumed his position at the career center where he has developed the food service training program.
Service award. Lynn Welker received the 2004 meritorious service award for his support of the Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association and the sheep industry.
Welker grew up in Dresden, Ohio, and attended The Ohio State University where he obtained a bachelor of science degree. He also obtained a master of science degree from Kent State University.
He was a vocational agriculture teacher and later a guidance counselor before assuming the position of supervisor of student personnel services at the Wayne County Schools Career Center.
Shepherd goals. Welker also operated a farm in Holmes County where he raised hay, Christmas trees and had a flock of 150 ewes.
As a shepherd, his goal was to have a 200-percent lamb crop per year and lamb his flock year-round to provide a steady supply of lamb to meet the market demand.
He also wanted to be able to sell 75 percent of his ewe lambs as replacement animals and wanted to average 12 pounds of wool per ewe per year.
Now a retired farmer, he still owns a tree farm and works part time at Melrose Orchard in Wooster.
In addition to being a member of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and the Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association, he is an active member of the Izaak Walton League, Farm Bureau, the Ohio Forestry Association and served on the Ohio Lamb and Wool Marketing Board.
Business meeting. During the meeting, Garth Gucker, 2003-2004 president of the association, reported on the group’s activities.
Educational activities included programs on sheep nutrition, lambing school, worm resistance to insecticides, sheep committee meetings, the annual lamb banquet, newsletters and a lamb tasting promotional event at a local grocery store.
Gucker reported that several activities are already being planned for this year, including a program on pasture management and a tour of a livestock auction, processing plant and sheep farm this fall.
He stressed the importance of being part of the group as it allows producers to network with other people involved in the industry.
Serving as officers for 2004-2005 will be Garth Gucker, president; Steve Schlegel, vice president; and Suzie Gortner, secretary/treasurer.
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