Farm Bureau volunteers and farmers Dennis Heyob of Hamilton County and Charles Lausin of Geauga County received the Distinguished Service Award. Farm Bureau leader and educator Alfred DiVencenzo was presented posthumously with the Cooperative/Agricultural Educator Award. Long-time Nationwide board member James Bachmann received the Ezra C. Anstaett Heritage Award.
Each honoree was recognized for lifetime achievements that benefited Ohio’s farming community. The awards were president Dec. 6 in Columbus at the 100th annual meeting of Ohio Farm Bureau.
Heyob is a lifelong farmer and Farm Bureau volunteer who served as county bureau president in four different decades and held numerous other offices and committee assignments. He initiated and led county events including the Farm to Family project that provided fresh produce and education on healthy eating to underserved urban families. He led efforts to provide food to local food banks, organized farm tours for nonfarmers and headed the county Farm Bureau’s work to wholly fund the $80,000 4-H Community Fair Show Pavilion at Stricker’s Grove. He regularly hosts local, state and national elected officials on his farm and is a frequent spokesperson for agriculture with local media. He also served on many community, agricultural and school organizations.
Lausin has spent his career in farming and in Farm Bureau, serving as Geauga County Farm Bureau president and holding various other leadership positions. He was on the state’s bureau board for 10 years. He was active in 4-H, local agricultural cooperatives and engaged in local government as a township trustee and planning commission member. He served on the Ohio Public Works Commission and served in leadership roles with Ohio State University Extension. He held many leadership roles with dairy organizations including Milk Marketing, Inc., Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation, OSU Dairy Science advisory groups and the American Farm Bureau dairy committee. He served on the county SWCD board, the Geauga Landmark board and was active with the local maple festival.
DiVencenzo was a 23-year bureau volunteer, who passed away unexpectedly this past July. He served as president of Lorain County Farm Bureau plus in many other leadership roles including state trustee for Ohio Farm Bureau representing members from Cuyahoga, Erie, Huron and Lorain counties. He served as vice president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association and led its popular Ohio State Fair exhibit. His tree farm included a pre-cut lot to benefit a local school and library fund. He served on the Ohio Public Works Commission Natural Resource Assistance Council and was a 4-H adviser. DiVencenzo spent 30 years in public education including service as an adjunct professor at the Firelands campus of Bowling Green State University.
Bachmann is a longtime business and community leader and served on the Nationwide board of directors from 2003 to 2018. He retired as managing partner for Ernst & Young’s Columbus location in 2003, where he led the office for 11 years. In addition to his board work at Nationwide, Bachmann also serves on other public company boards of directors as well as non-profit organizations which have included The Ohio State University Hospital, The Ohio State University Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees, United Way of Central Ohio, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Columbus Museum of Art and the McCoy Performing Arts Center. The Ezra C. Anstaett Heritage Award recognizes partners who help the bureau achieve its mission. It’s named after the first policyholder of Ohio Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, which later became Nationwide Insurance.
Candidates for the awards are nominated by Farm Bureau volunteers, county organizations and state leaders.