COLUMBUS – Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) honored four individuals Dec. 3 for their lifelong contributions to agriculture during the organization’s 97th annual meeting in Columbus.
Irv and Jean Bell were honored with the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. Agricultural educator Stephanie Gompf Jolliff was honored with the Cooperative/Agriculture Educator Award, which also was presented posthumously to vocational agriculture teacher Joseph Sloan.
The awards recognize the outstanding careers of individuals who have contributed to agriculture, their communities and Ohio Farm Bureau. Nominations for the awards came from county Farm Bureaus and individual members.
Ohio State University graduates Irv and Jean Bell run a family farm in Muskingum County with their son Matt and his wife Melissa where they have a hog, cow-calf and grain operation. The Bells received the Farm Family Conservation Award in 2007 as well as the Muskingum County Soil and Water Conservation District Resource Conservation Award, the Ohio Pork Industry Stewardship Award and the Ohio Pork Industry Excellence Award.
Irv was an Ohio State University Extension educator in both Pickaway and Jackson counties before returning to Bell Farms. He is a past OFBF president, 40-year member of Muskingum County Farm Bureau and currently a member of the Nationwide Insurance board of directors. He is a former board member of the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Livestock Coalition and Production Credit Association. A member of Ohio State University’s Animal Science Hall of Fame and Ohio Ag Hall of Fame, Irv also received the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award. He was inducted into the Muskingum County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame and received the 2015 Outstanding Alumnus Award from the OSU Alumni Club of Muskingum County.
Jean, who taught Spanish at West Muskingum High School for 25 years, is a member of the Board of Governors of The Ohio State University Alumni Club of Muskingum County, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Delta Kappa Gamma educational service organization and Muskingum County Farm Bureau. She has served as a delegate for Muskingum County Farm Bureau, was on the board of the Ohio Pork Producers Council from 2008-2011 and also on the Ohio 4-H Foundation Board where she served as chair for three years.
Jolliff is a Ridgemont High School FFA agricultural educator from Hardin County. She is president of the Ohio Association of Agricultural Educators; Ohio Agriculture Woman of the Year; Fuel Up To Play 60 Program Advisor of the Year; Ohio VFW Teacher of the Year, and Girl Scout Woman of Distinction. She led the Ridgemont FFA to back-to-back titles as Ohio’s No. 1 FFA chapter, as well as National FFA Model of Innovation winners in the National FFA Chapter contest. She has secured more than $250,000 in grants to extend her agricultural education program and student experiences.
Sloan, who passed away in 2014, was a vocational agriculture teacher at National Trail High School and FFA adviser from Preble County. He was awarded posthumously the American Honorary FFA degree as well as the Ohio Honorary degree for his passionate work for his students and agriculture. He was a 31-year member of the Preble County Farm Bureau.
Over the years, Sloan had five Ohio FFA state officers (seven state officer candidates), two national proficiency finalists, two star state degree finalists and numerous state and district proficiency finalists and winners. There have been about 65 state degree recipients and over 25 American degree recipients over his tenure. The FFA chapter was a Top 10 chapter in Ohio for at least five years during his tenure and for most of his years as adviser, the chapter was at least a two-star or silver-rated chapter nationally.