By Janet Kehres
A group of four area students will be studying during FFA week because they placed first in New London’s North Central Equipment competition. The four students were: Hunter Richie, a senior at Shelby High School (SHS); Reegan Leonhardt, a junior at Colonel Crawford; Dylan Finnegan, a sophomore at SHS and Kirby Vogt, a freshman at SHS. As a team of two, each team was expected to fix five different agriculture machines. The equipment ranged from a tractor to a skid loader. The four students placed first and will advance to the state competition in March at the University of North Western, Lima. Also in March, Vogt and Finnegan will both compete for scholarship money.
Plymouth's chapter of FFA provided a supporters breakfast during FFA week. Alumni, family and area farmers were greeted by the members working hard to prepare the meal. The students dressed in FFA apparel to show their pride.
Also during FFA week, the students took a farm tour. It was a rainy morning, but the students came prepared. Before leaving the bus, each student put plastic wrap boots over their shoes because of the water drenched ground.
During the farm tour, the students visited J-Lynn Jersey Farm where they were greeted by Jenny Bernhard who explained the dairy process. She and Kyle Bernhard own and operate the farm. She said they currently farm 500 acres of owned and rented ground with crops consisting of corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and Sorghum-Sudan Grass. She takes care of the calves, herd health and oversees the breeding and reproductive program in the herd.
Kyle takes care of the crops, feed and manure management. He said they handle 6-7 million gallons of liquid manure in a year, through an earthen lagoon. Any waste water used for cleaning the parlor or holding area also goes into the lagoon.
Most of the crops stay on the farm as feed for their herd of 205 cows, mostly Jerseys, with a few Holsteins and a few cross breds, along with 170 replacement animals. They are phasing out the Holsteins to achieve their goal of 100 percent Jerseys in the herd.
Jenny got involved with cows when she was in FFA and took a job on a small dairy farm. After high school, she took a job on a 600-cow dairy farm. She said she didn't grow up on a farm, but graduated from Ohio State ATI's dairy program. Kyle also attended ATI and credits the education there as, “what gave me the foundation I needed to raise cows”.
The students also visited the Rumpke Noble Landfill. For anyone wondering what happens to their trash, a tour at their local landfill will be informative. When we make trash, some gets recycled or recovered, some is burned, but the majority is buried in landfills. Americans produce trash at the rate of 4.6 pounds per day. Todays landfills are highly engineered systems with many layers of environmental protection. The three main layers are: liner system; drainage; and landfill gas.
The final stop of the tour was at the farm of 84 year old Rosie Reer. Rosie has goats, chickens, a lovely peacock and many other farm animals. Rosie is grandmother to Douglas Reer, one of the Plymouth High School FFA students. Doug serves as an advisor on the CDE Committee. The rain had stopped and students were free to roam the farm to enjoy the variety of animals.