The five honored families were: the Rodabaugh family of Hardin County; Sluss family of County Stark; Jeannie and the late Cliff Miller of Carroll County; Harrod family of Darke County; and White Clover Farms in Highland County.
Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized Ohio farming families for their exemplary efforts in conserving soil, water, woods, wildlife, and other natural resources on land that they cultivate. Conservation Farm Families also run a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, Boy Scout groups, farm organizations and more.
Families each receive $ 400 from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and are featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine.
Ohio Farmer magazine has sponsored the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards since the program’s inception. Applications are invited annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply, individuals can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
• Zone 1 Winner – Rodabaugh Family: Chris and Gail Rodabaugh operate a farm with two sons, Clint and Cody, owners of Rodabaugh Meats, a retail and contract slaughterhouse. Chris and Gail also have another son, Chet, who lives in West Virginia.
The Rodabaughs cultivate 1,200 acres of no-till corn and soybeans in Hardin and Hancock counties. They have been no-till for over 30 years and have had cover crops on every acre. About 130 acres are enrolled in various conservation programs such as waterways, wetlands, tree plantations and quail pads. They have been raising pigs for many years, but now have a small herd of partnered beef goats.
The Rodabaughs were named Hardin Conservation Cooperator of the Year 2020. The family have organized field conservation days and have worked with Hardin SWCD on many projects.
• Zone 2 Winner – Sluss Family: Sam and Lauren Sluss are both fourth generation farmers in County Stark. They have two children. In addition to farming, Sam and Lauren have non-farm jobs.
The Sluss family farm 275 acres in Stark and Carroll counties, growing no-till corn, wheat, hay and soybeans. They also plant around 200 acres to cover crops each fall. The Slussians worked with the Stark Soil and Water Conservation District to provide a stopover on cover crop day for farmers to promote the benefits of cover crops for improving the health of farmers. soils.
The Sluss family has been chosen as the 2020 Cooperator of the Year by the Stark SWCD.
• Zone 3 winner – Jeannie and the late Cliff Miller. Cliff and Jean Miller worked as a team in marriage for 57 years and in agriculture for 40 years. They have two daughters.
Miller Ridge Farm is made up of 167 acres. They used intensive managed grazing by dividing their pasture into 32 pens. They used the EQIP and CSP grants to improve water quality, preserve topsoil, and manage wooded areas on the farm.
Cliff was a member of the Carroll County Soil and Water Conservation Board for 12 years, and he was chair of the board for four years. He was a founding member of the Eastern Ohio Grazing Council, which was formed to improve and advance conservation practices.
Miller Ridge Farm also organized pasture walks and a forest management program for the Carroll County Soil and Water Conservation District.
• Zone 4 Winner – Harrod Family: Tom and Jayne Harrod operate a farm alongside their son, Korey, and his wife, Brittany. Their son-in-law, Sean Gerber, helps part time.
The Harrods buy weaned pigs from a neighboring farrowing unit and finish about 20,000 pigs per year. They have two turkey starter barns under contract. They farm 1,200 acres in Darke County, growing no-till soybeans and corn, all of which are used as pig feed. They are currently planting 300 acres of cover crops.
The family received the 2018 Darke County Chamber Achievement Award. Tom was the 2003 Darke County SWCD Cooperator of the Year, and Tom’s father, Harold, won the same award in 1973. Tom has been a member of the Darke SWCD Board of Directors for 15 years.
• Zone 5 Winner – White Clover Farms: Jim and Sheryl Linne own White Clover Farms in Hillsboro. They have two daughters.
White Clover Farm is 300 acres of pasture, lumber and hay. They converted conventional farmland to a 100% grass-fed cattle operation. The farm uses holistic management to ensure soil improvement and uses prescribed grazing to maximize grazing potential.
Jim partners with the Highland SWCD for grazing schools and farm tours, where his land is used as an example of good conservation. Jim was named Highland County SWCD Cooperator of the Year in 2016.