WOOSTER, Ohio Ã¢â¬â Lieutenant governor candidate Joy Padgett looked into OhioÃ¢â¬â¢s future April 25 in Wooster, and it featured science and higher education.
The state senator from Coshocton toured the Agricultural Technical Institute (Ohio State ATI) and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), arms of Ohio State University, and learned about efforts to develop biofuels, boost rural economies, produce a domestic source of rubber, combat bird flu and the emerald ash borer, and prepare college students for successful careers.
Ã¢â¬ÅI think what you do is very important in rebuilding OhioÃ¢â¬â¢s economic development,Ã¢â¬Â Padgett told a group of scientists, instructors and administrators. Ã¢â¬ÅMy interests today are multi-faceted: from my work in the Senate and my background in agriculture, and hopefully moving forward with much more emphasis than weÃ¢â¬â¢ve had.Ã¢â¬Â
Her running mate, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, faces Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
A Kent State graduate, a former public school teacher and the former director of OhioÃ¢â¬â¢s Office of Appalachia, Padgett serves as chair of the Senate Education Committtee and vice chair of the Agriculture Committee.
Ohio State ATI Director Steve Nameth and OARDC Director Steve Slack led the tour, which included stops in Secrest Arboretum, the Shisler Conference Center and the Horticulture and Crop Science greenhouses.
Among the speakers: OARDC animal scientist Steve Loerch on the benefits to eastern Ohio farmers of intensive and seasonal grazing, a current research thrust; OARDC animal scientist Floyd Schanbacher on the CenterÃ¢â¬â¢s leading efforts to develop alternative fuels in Ohio (from such Ã¢â¬ÅfeedstocksÃ¢â¬Â as corn, soybeans and food-processing waste); Mo Saif, director of the Food Animal Health Research Program, on bird flu (avian influenza) and OARDCÃ¢â¬â¢s efforts to study and control it (in both poultry and people); Matt Kleinhenz, vegetable-crops scientist with OARDC and OSU Extension, on a study that aims to develop the dandelion (a species from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) as an American-grown source of natural rubber (which the country currently lacks); and OARDC and OSU Extension entomologist Dan Herms on the emerald ash borer, a deadly, spreading threat to OhioÃ¢â¬â¢s 5 billion native ash trees.
OARDC Ã¢â¬â the largest and most comprehensive agricultural research facility in the country Ã¢â¬â and Ohio State ATI Ã¢â¬â ranked No. 1 in the nation in the awarding of associate degrees in agriculture and related sciences Ã¢â¬â both belong to Ohio StateÃ¢â¬â¢s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
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Photo: Against a springtime background of flowering crabapple trees, lieutenant governor candidate Joy Padgett (left) and OARDC Director Steve Slack hear Dan Herms talk about the deadly emerald ash borer and efforts to stop it in Ohio. (OARDC photo by Kenneth D. Chamberlain.)