By Esther M Silvius
"All Abuzz About Bees and Other Amazing Pollinators" was the theme for the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting.The accomplishments of the past year were reviewed and goals for the future discussed during the event held at the Union Hill United Methodist Church at Sugarcreek. Michele Specht, organization director for Tuscarawas, Carroll, and Harrison counties, welcomed the group, and Sonya Quillin gave the invocation. Specht introduced members of the Tuscarawas County Beekeepers Association, who were guests, and, explained the relationship between the industry of bee keeping and the work of the Farm Bureau in the lives of its members. Ray Wirt, president of the Tuscarawas County Beekeepers Association, spoke about the importance of bees for proper plant pollination, needed to achieve maximum crop yield. Jeremy Evans, Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau president, gave his report and introduced the 2013 and 2014 Action Leaders and Team, and thanked them for their work. The 2013-2014 Action Leaders recognized for their achievements were: Steve Quillin, communication; Thad Gerber, organization; Don Hoffman, public policy; Jim Rowe, center for food and animal issues; and Hallie Hawthorne, membership. Team members recognized were: Mary Jane John, Shelly Wheeler, Chris Kendle, Dan Biller, Dave Potts, Mike Yoder, Eric Prysi, Jerry and Rita Lahmers, and others. Michele Specht recognized membership volunteers and noted that "from the success of the Farm Bureau membership campaign come the dollars we use to carry on projects and activities, such as the barn book cases presented to the libraries ." The Tuscarawas County Public Library at New Philadelphia and the Dover Public Library each received a barn book case to be filled with farm related books, donated by anyone who is interested in the project. Specht presented the Ag Educator of the Year Award to a group of three teachers from South Elementary, in New Philadelphia City School District- Joyce Anderson, Julie Watson and Natasha Swailes. The teachers conducted an activity involving baby chicks in their first grade classroom. The students had an incubator and 12-16 chicken eggs in the classroom, which they observed day to day, monitoring their growth through photos and nonfiction books. The students were able to watch the baby chicks hatch. The teachers keep the baby chicks for about a week before they go to live on a farm. The teachers received a certificate, and a check for $200 they could use in any way they choose. Agland Co-op was recognized as the first business to receive the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau Partner of the Year Award. They received a wall plaque with a tractor hitch pin, symbolizing the connection between agri-business and Farm Bureau. In presenting the award, Jeremy Evans said "Over the years, Landmark has turned into Agland Co-op, and they have continued to support our organization by providing products and a market for our farmers, co-sponsoring our county newsletters, making every employee a member and supporting many county events and programs." Don Hoffman presented the 2014-2015 local, state and national proposed policies that have been developed by the policy development committee. All the policies were approved by members attending the meeting, including the local one on supporting increased awareness and stronger penalties for misuse of illegal substances. State issues include one that states "we feel that the governance of education in Ohio should go back to 1956, when the entire State School Board was elected and not half of the members appointed by the governor." Among the national issues approved include one that states "We oppose the federal Environmental Protection Agency's current proposal on power plant emissions which would significantly increase costs for home and business owners, also eliminating most of the local coal industry jobs." Ben Hoffman, Eric Prysi, and Dean Putt were elected to the Farm Bureau board of trustees.