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1st Annual "Salute to Agriculture" Breakfast
Mervyn Jenkins Expo Center
6:30 to 8:00 a.m.
March 12th, 2008

Community Applauds Agriculture Success
Chamber Hosts Salute to Agriculture
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008, C-T

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

CAPTION: Agriculture instructors at Grand River Technical School were honored for the role they play in the promotion and development of agriculture. They were announced award recipients during the Salute to Ag breakfast. From left: Rusty Black, Brian Thompson, Leda Schreiner, Jim Grozinger, and Keith Dietzschold.

Community members gathered to applaud successes in agriculture which run the gamut locally from small farming operations to agriculture education and exhibition. The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its first “Salute to Agriculture” breakfast at the Mervyn Jenkins Expo Center Wednesday morning with around 70 people attending.

Awards were presented to the Livingston County Fair Board and the agriculture instructors of Grand River Technical School for their efforts in the promotion and development of agriculture.

The keynote speaker for the early morning gathering was radio personality and farmer Andrew McCrea, of Maysville. McCrea talked about the perceptions and realities of agriculture and noted how they are influenced by farmers' attitudes, purpose and perspectives. McCrea is a farmer, rancher, author and nationally syndicated radio broadcaster. For 10 years, he has traveled the nation, producing the “American Countryside” features that are heard daily on radio stations coast to coast. McCrea manages and works on his family's 3,500-acre ranch in northwest Missouri. He checks cattle on horseback and even tracks down news stories on his cell phone while operating a combine or tractor.

Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney served as the master of ceremonies for the morning assembly and Father William Bellais of Grace Episcopal Church provided the invocation. Tony Clark, past president of the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomed those in attendance.

“The Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes and embraces the vital role agriculture plays in our area,” Clark said. “We appreciate the efforts and hard work and commitment of those who promote agriculture, participate in agriculture and work in ag-related businesses.” “It is not a surprise to those of us who live here why Livingston County was selected as one of the best places to live in rural America in Progressive Farmer's February 2008 edition, being ranked No. 2 in the Midwest region.”

Livingston County was formed in 1837 from Carroll County based on agriculture; and its assessed valuation amounted to $13,773,380 with 903 farms in the county in 2002. “With the advantage of being a “city in the country,” Chillicothe continues to boast a high quality of country life,” Clark said. He noted that as big city residents and businesses become tired of problems associated with big cities and overcrowding more people and industries have begun to “return to the land,” including relocation to Chillicothe. “This is the heartland of America where the work ethic and quality of life are strong, and the labor force is the backbone of solid industrial growth,” Clark said.

Words of appreciation were extended and awards presented to the Livingston County Fair Board and the agriculture instructors of the Grand River Technical School.

The fair board's award was presented for member's efforts in building a new fairgrounds which made its formal debut last year at the Livingston Cunty 4-H and FFA Fair.

C-T Photo/Catherine Stortz Ripley

CAPTION: Livingston County Fair Board members were applauded and presented an award Wednesday morning for their efforts in building a new fairgrounds. From left: Shane Baxter, who presented the award, and Fair Board representatives, President Steve Radcliff, Treasurer Bob Peters, and Secretary Jackie Woodworth.

The announcement on January 18, 2006, alerted the community that the Livingston County 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds would move to the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center and that dirt work on the new site in north Chillicothe was underway. It was noted at that time that in 1971, Chillicothe R-2 had 80 agriculture students, 60 of which lived on family farms. However, in 2006, there were over 200 Chillicothe FFA members and only 30 lived on their respective family farms. The need for agriculture and its related careers still existed then and still exist now making it necessary to provide agriculture education to those students who don't receive it on the family farm.

This was truly a team effort. At a press conference held June 21, 2006, it was announced that the bulk of the $950,000 fairgrounds project would be funded through donations from four local foundations and the Chillicothe Development Corporation. Funding from those sources were: Jenkins Foundation, $725,000; Litton Foundation, $400,000; Browning Foundation, $50,000; McCall Foundation, $100,000; and CDC, $50,000. Later, Bank Midwest of Chillicothe donated $20,000, CB&T pledged $50,000, and Chillicothe State Bank donated $30,000, plus the donations of time, hard work, sweat, materials, and more dollars as the project progressed.

The facility plans included a 28,000 square feet multi-purpose expo center, with 8,000 feet enclosed and heated and air conditioned, a 16,800 square-foot cattle building, two 10,000 square-foot buildings for hogs, sheep, and other small animals, and an 8,000 square-foot horse barn. An outdoor arena, campground, and picnic area were also included in the plans. The Chillicothe Rotary Club built a shelter house in 2007.

All who utilize the Litton Center should thank the the Livingston County fair board, students, advisors, and local individuals who have put their time into making this a reality. Without this type of support, the Litton Center would not be as successful as it is today.

The next award was given to a group of individuals who believe in education and also in service.

Through their involvement with the students, the school, the community and even state and national organizations, they have proven to be tireless workers, professional, positive, creative, eager to help, dedicated, and have served as both mentors and advisors. Just a few of their previous awards have included the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Missouri, the Eddy Award from Missouri Public Education, 2006 Chillicothe R-2 Teacher of the Year, Vocational Education Teacher of the Year in 2003, and Teacher of the Year from the Missouri Vocational Association.

These individuals believe in and live what they teach. Not only do they teach students about agriculture, they teach them about the importance of being able to provide for themselves and their families, prepared for the next step in their careers, both technically and academically. These individuals support each other and work together for the good of their department.

In the final phase of the expansion project at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center - the construction of a pole building measuring 22 feet by 96 feet - the Ag Power and Structures and Ag Construction II classes in the agriculture department at Grand River Technical School assisted, learning plumbing, building construction, concrete construction, electricity and work ethic. Just one more example of how students in this department learn life skills that will carry over into their real lives.

Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve - this is the FFA motto and this exemplifies our winners. Please join us in thanking the Chillicothe R-II Grand River Area Vo-Tech Ag instructors: Rusty Black, Keith Dietzschold, Jim Grozinger, Leda Schreiner and Brian Thompson.

The Chamber Ag Committee was comprised of Amy Shirley, Barb Burton, Martha Berry, Diane Garber, Chuck Haney, Jerry Englert, Pam Allison, Mark Germann, and Jim Grozinger. Scripts were written by Brenda Fellhoelter of BK Web Works. The breakfast was hosted by the chamber with sponsorship from 26 local businesses.

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