COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A newly created Ohio State University Extension award that recognizes accomplishments within the organization at the county level has been named in honor of a Morrow County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension educator.
The Steve Ruhl County Agriculture Agent Award, named for Steve Ruhl who passed away in October, recognizes a county educator who has provided outstanding educational programs to his or her clientele. The programs could represent animal sciences, agronomy, horticulture, farm management, entomology, leadership, or any other related area where the educator has demonstrated proven success.
"The award was started with the residual funds left over from the 2006 National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference held in Cincinnati. The planning committee decided that these funds would be used to establish an endowment to recognize each year, an outstanding county agent," said Mike Hogan, an OSU Extension educator for Carroll County. "When Steve passed away this fall, everyone agreed that the award should be named in his memory to perpetually honor the outstanding work Steve did as an educator and a human being."
Ruhl is also the first recipient of the award, which will be presented to his family during the OSU Extension Annual Conference later this month.
"Steve Ruhl was a natural born educator who loved agriculture and the natural resources it is built on. He helped to transform the lives of Morrow County farm families through a variety of educational methods and approaches," said Steve Baertsche, assistant director of OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources. "Whether one-on-one farm visits or in group classroom settings and field days, he always strived to get the latest relevant research and information to his farmers. He truly will be missed by the agriculture/natural resources program family."
Ruhl, born and raised in Morrow County, was an OSU Extension educator for nearly 25 years. He provided services to the Morrow County Soil and Water Conservation District, Morrow County Farm Service Agency, Morrow County Pork Producers Association, District IV Pork Producers Council, Morrow County Dairy Association, Morrow County Beekeepers Association, Morrow County Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio Pork Producers Council, Morrow County Cattlemen Association, Morrow County Farmland Preservation Task Force, Farm Credit Services Advisory Committee, Morrow County Farm Safety Council, Morrow County Family First Council, American Simmental Association, Morrow County Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water, Morrow County United Way, Morrow County Regional Planning, and the Morrow County Schools Business Advisory Committee. He also wrote a weekly column for the Morrow County Sentinel known as "Down On The Farm."
For his efforts, Ruhl won numerous awards including the Ohio Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi's Team Teaching Award; State Winner in 1992, 1993, 2004 and 2006; the Service Award of the Morrow County Cattlemen Association in 2000; the Distinguished Service Award (the highest award granted to an Extension agent) in 1997; NACAA Livestock Production Program Award National Winner in Livestock Production Education in 1994; Ohio Extension Agents Association Achievement Award for Agriculture as the State Winner in 1994; Service Award of the Morrow County Dairy Farmers in 1991; selected to Outstanding Young Men of America in 1989; and the NACAA State Grain Marketing Award in 1986. In addition, he was recognized by Governor Celeste for organizing 27 semi loads and four railroad cars to be donated, loaded and shipped to hay deficit areas during the drought in 1986.
In addition, Steve was a member of the Ohio Association of Extension Professionals, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, and the Morrow County Farm Bureau.
"Steve was an outstanding teacher," said Don Breece, an OSU Extension farm management specialist. "Steve and I were agents in Marion and Morrow counties during the days of the farm crisis. We met with farm families in both counties dealing with significant financial problems. There were a lot of late nights, and some early mornings, as well. Steve was a trusted, honest adviser, a most compassionate man, with genuine warmth and friendliness that made those meetings at the kitchen table possible."
The Steve Ruhl County Agriculture Agent Award will be handed out annually. Recipients will receive $1,500. Award recipients will be chosen from applications reviewed by a selection committee consisting of the first and second vice-presidents for agriculture of the Ohio Association of Extension Professionals, the association's regional agricultural representatives, and OSU Extension's state program leader.