Leadership Highland Agriculture Day

Leadership Highland participants at the World Equestrian Center on October 30, 2019. Left to right: Brooke Beam, Kathy Bruins, Mel McKenzie, Amanda Hall, Courtney Gallimore, Blaine Williams, Amatha Farrens, Bill Davis, Jacob Alexander, and Scott Lewis.

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

November 4, 2019

On Wednesday, October 30, the 2019-2020 class of Leadership Highland met to learn about agriculture in the region. Leadership Highland class members toured the Highland County Extension Office, Brown Farms, Premier Grain, Bright Farms, and the World Equestrian Center.

The first stop on the Leadership Highland agriculture day was at the Highland County Extension Office. Brooke Beam and Kathy Bruynis provided an overview of the variety of Extension programming offered in the county, which includes 4-H, agriculture and natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences, and SNAP Education. Dr. Beam provided an overview of the fertilizer and pesticide recertification courses offered for farmers annually, as well as the daily operations in the Extension Office.

The second tour of the day was to Brown Farms, where the group met with Nathan Brown. Mr. Brown, a first-generation farmer, learned by working with another local farmer to become established in the industry. Mr. Brown discussed the challenges facing the agriculture industry, cover crops, and mental health in the farming community. Brown Farms raises grain crops and beef cattle near New Vienna.

The third visit of the Leadership Highland agriculture day was to Premier Grain in Leesburg, where the group met with John Surber. Mr. Surber is the owner of Premier Grain, which operates several gain mills in the region. On this particular day, Premier Grain in Leesburg was filling shipping containers with grain for overseas markets. Mr. Surber discussed the logistics of transporting Highland County grain to Asia and the different uses of grain locally.

Due to the inclement weather, the afternoon of the Leadership Highland agriculture day was spent at indoor facilities. The first stop of the afternoon was to Bright Farms in Wilmington, Ohio. Bright Farms is a hydroponic greenhouse that raises multiple varieties of leafy greens. The greens are mature in 12 to 14 days after planting depending on the variety. Once harvested, the lettuce is delivered fresh to regional grocery stores and restaurants, which include WalMart, Jungle Jim’s, Damon’s in Wilmington, and the Escape Bar and Grill in Wilmington.

The final stop of the day was to the World Equestrian Center outside of Wilmington. The World Equestrian Center hosts 28 USEF rated hunter/jumper horse shows annually. The winter season of shows will begin in November. The tour of the facility included the show rings, stables, shops, and the Paddock Restaurant.

The next meeting of Leadership Highland is scheduled for the end of November, highlighting health and public safety. For more information about Leadership Highland or other Extension programming, contact the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.

Leadership Highland Agriculture and Natural Resources Day

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator

October 17, 2018


From left to right: Mat Greene, Liz Brennfleck, Diana Grooms, Michelle Unsworth, Rob Holt, Destiny Bryson, Scott Hopf, Evan Davis, and Ken Davis at the Davis’ farm.

The Leadership Highland class of 2018-2019 met on October 17, 2018, for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Day. Participants learned more about agriculture, natural resources, and conservation in Highland County and Ohio.

The first tour of the day was to the Fallsville Wildlife Area. Participants met with Kash Adams, the Fallsville Wildlife Area Manager, who discussed the covey of Quail which reside in the wildlife area. Adams described the ideal habitat for Quail and how the Fallsville Wildlife Area staff creates those habitats. Adams led a hike to the Fallsville Wildlife Area waterfall, which has seen an increase in visitors since being featured on social media tourism sites.

Leadership Highland participants and Kash Adams at the Fallsville Wildlife Area waterfall.


Fallsville Wildlife Area Waterfall

The second stop of the day was Davis Farms. Ken and Christa Davis hosted the participants of Leadership Highland in their farm shop to discuss the innovations and technologies used in modern agriculture. Participants then met with Evan Davis in one of the family’s cornfields, where they gained first-hand experience on the process of harvesting with a combine, grain cart, and semi-trucks. The final stop of the Davis Farm tour was of their grain bin facility, where Leadership Highland participants learned about the importance of drying and storing grain to maintain grain quality.

Evan Davis showed participants about the technological features of the combine head.


Ken Davis describes harvest on his farm while his son, Evan, drives the combine in the background.

David Daniels, the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, spoke before lunch about his career in agriculture and trends in agriculture throughout the state. Daniels stated that one of the main challenges facing agriculture is the public perception of agricultural practices and being able to effectively communicate with consumers. Dr. Andy Londo, Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Ohio State University Extension, Dr. Greg Davis, Assistant Director of Community Development of Ohio State University Extension, and Kathy Bruynis, Highland County 4-H Youth Development Educator and Extension Area Leader, also joined the Leadership Highland class for lunch and Daniels’ presentation.


Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels spoke to the participants of Leadership Highland and guests about his background and Ohio agriculture.


The final tour of the day was of The Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon. Dr. Tom Worley, Director of OSU South Centers, provided a tour that highlighted all areas of South Centers programs and research. Leadership Highland participants learned about the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, Direct Agricultural and Food Marketing, Family Nutrition and Wellness, the Soil and Water laboratory, aquaculture, and aquaponics programs housed at South Centers. Participants were given a wagon tour of the small fruits and horticulture research test plots. These test plots included viticulture, blueberries, and research on water required to efficiently produce corn and soybeans in inhospitable climates on Earth and potentially Mars. The final portion of the tour was of the Endeavor Center, where participants were able to view the television studio used to produce many Extension television programs.

Dr. Gary Gao spoke to the group on the wagon tour of the research test plots at South Centers.

Special thanks to Bagshaw Enterprises Inc. and Rob Holt who provided a passenger van for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Day tours, and to all of the guests, speakers, and hosts who made the day possible. For several Leadership Highland participants, this was their first time to tour a farm during harvest, see the Fallsville waterfall, or to tour South Centers. The next meeting of Leadership Highland will be Health and Public Safety Day in November.

Upcoming Events: 

Beef Quality Assurance Training: 

  • Thursday, October 25, 2018, 6:30 P.M., Producer Stockyards, Hillsboro, Ohio

Call your local Ohio State University Extension Office to register for the BQA training. The Highland County Extension Office can be reached at 937-393-1918.