The first day of the Farm Science Review was a day of celebration for Ohio State University leaders and stakeholders.
The university has met its latest campaign goal, raising more than $2.5 billion in less than seven years with the “But for Ohio State” campaign.
A Celebration of Ohio Agriculture luncheon, held on the first of the three-day Review, touted the campaign’s success, the university’s growth and Ohio agriculture, in general.
Event guests were greeted by warm temperatures and crowds at the international agriculture trade show, which typically draws about 120,000 to Ohio State’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center outside of London at the intersection of State Route 38 and U.S. 40.
This year’s total was 125,790.
Tuesday’s event was attended by Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels, various other county and state government officials and university leaders.
Supporters of the university’s agriculture school played a large role in allowing Ohio State to exceed its goal, said Lonnie King, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). More than $22 million in gifts were received by CFAES — almost 50 percent more than their goal of $15 million.
The money is going toward allowing the university to meet its mission, said President Dr. Michael Drake. Ohio State seeks to make education accessible, make education excellent and make it affordable, he said.
Donations ranged from $5 to nine figures, he said.
The emphasis has been placed on increasing need-based scholarships, Drake said. Last year, the university offered $15 million in need-based aid, which benefited 12,000 students at the Columbus campus. This year that figure has been increased to $20 million, with students from Columbus and the satellite locations benefiting.
Drake also noted the university has had flat tuition for five years and flat room and board fees for two years — something that hasn’t happened for about 40 years.
Another new initiative is encouraging students to take advantage of summer classes by reducing the cost of tuition by 25 percent. Typically, only about 25 percent of students enroll during summer compared to the traditional school year.
Drake said about $125 million has been invested into food security programs. Research is being done on food security and health and food production — issues that affect those in the university’s “backyard,” he said.
About 74 percent of CFAES graduates are employed in Ohio and 322 companies have hired CFAES graduates in the last year.
Natalie Miller, of Washington Court House, served as the emcee of the luncheon. She is a second-year student at Ohio State where she’s studying agribusiness and applied economics. She’s also a 2015 graduate of Miami Trace High School in Fayette County, where her family operates a grain farm.
Madison County Commissioner David Dhume and Kirsten Holt, Madison County OSU Extension director, were among those in attendance. County commissioners and Ohio State Extension are “cooperating agencies” said Dhume.
“The services the Extension provides are not available anywhere else in the county,” said Dhume.
The county’s comprehensive plan is focused on preserving farmland, he said. About 85 percent of soil in Madison County is considered “prime” or “productive,” he said.
“Agriculture is the number one industry, and we try our best to make agriculture as productive as commissioners can,” he said.
There are about 800 active 4-H members in the county, said Holt. The Extension also offers farm visits and the delivery or facilitation of whatever agriculture education is needed in the county.
The Review, which continued through Thursday, featured field demonstrations, more than 630 exhibitors, and 180 educational presentations.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.