COLUMBUS — Aaron and Sarah Heilers of Anna were named Tuesday the winners of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 2016 Excellence in Agriculture Award. The award recognizes successful young agricultural professionals who are actively contributing and growing through their involvement with Farm Bureau and agriculture.
“We are really excited about winning the award,” Heilers said Wednesday. “It is nice to be recognized considering the excellent other farm families nominated. We feel pretty fortunate to to have received it.”
The Shelby County Farm Bureau couple have an 80-acre soybean, corn (but not this year), wheat and wine grape operation. Aaron is project manager of the Blanchard River Demonstration Farm Network Project, a $1 million, five-year project supported by Ohio Farm Bureau, USDA NRCS and other groups that showcases innovative and standard agricultural practices that help reduce and prevent nutrient runoff. Sarah is an agricultural educator and FFA adviser at Anna High School.
Heilers said that it will be an honor to “share our story with others, and those at the national level.”
The Heilers will receive an expense-paid trip to compete in the national Excellence in Agriculture contest during American Farm Bureau’s annual convention in January. They also will receive a John Deere Gator courtesy of Farm Credit Mid-America and a $1,000 technology package sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau.
He said he and Sarah were notified last month that they were among the finalists for the award. “We had to then give a 25-minute presentation before a panel of judges about our activities and farm operation,” he said. He said the award is “definitely a joint honor, referring to his wife Sarah, who is also active in farming. “We are a good team.”
The couple are members of Shelby County’s Young Agricultural Professionals chapter and were co-chairs of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Agricultural Professionals committee. Aaron is past president and vice president of Shelby County Farm Bureau and director of the Shelby County Fair Board. Sarah is currently on the county Farm Bureau’s Women in Ag Committee, an adviser for both Anna Young Farmers and Anna FFA Alumni and was Shelby County Farm Bureau Teacher of the Year in 2012. They both have bachelor’s degrees in agriculture from Ohio State University and Sarah has a master’s in teaching and learning from Nova Southeastern University. They have two children.
Other finalists in the Excellence in Agriculture contest were Greg and Rose Hartschuh of Sycamore and Kyle Smith of South Vienna.
Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals are 18 to 35, single or married, who farm or work in related industries and are interested in improving the business of agriculture, learning new ideas and developing leadership skills. To learn more, visit ofbf.org.
The writer is the editor of Rural Life Today and can be reached at 937-556-5759 or on Twitter at GBrock4