The Butler County Fair is more than just rides, games, and demolition derbies for the many students involved in Butler Tech agricultural programs. For them, the fair is serious business. Their experiences with the fair and FFA (Future Farmers of America) are helping to shape their plans for higher education and their future careers.
Jarrett Crowthers, who will be a senior at Edgewood High School, took a break from the fair to show the sheep he’s been raising for the past six months. He earned a win for showmanship in his class and a Top Three finish in the Grand Drive. He hopes to turn his experience with FFA into a career shaping the nation’s agriculture policy. “It’s necessary to advocate for agriculture so consumers know the truth about their food, its safety and security,” Crowthers said. He sees an important connection between setting sound agriculture policy and feeding a growing population in the U.S.
On the other side of the fairgrounds, 2015 Talawanda High School graduate Kait Butterfield is helping to run the Farm Zone exhibit operated by the OSU Extension Office. Butterfield is now a junior at The Ohio State University studying Agricultural Business and Applied Economics. Even as an undergrad, the former Butler County Fair Queen is already meeting with elected officials as part of her studies to promote issues important to farming. “I grew up on a farm, but didn’t really know about all of the career opportunities,” Butterfield said. She says experiences with Butler Tech programs and the FFA helped open her eyes to the many options available.
It’s a similar experience echoed by the current Butler County Fair Queen, Katie Summe, who graduated this year from Ross High School. Summe is going to Wilmington College this year to study animal science. She is busy during fair week showing animals ranging from pigs and chickens to cows and steers. She’s also serving as an ambassador by attending as main of the fair’s judging events as possible and helping to award the ribbons.
Jacob Schlichter, of Talawanda High School, was also busy showing pigs. He’s one of the many students who help care for the animals at the fair by making sure they are clean, well-fed and have plenty of water. He participated in FFA and Butler Tech agriculture programs all four years at Talawanda. He’s heading to Miami University to study zoology, and eventually wants to become a veterinarian.
The current generation of students are being supported by those who came before them. The FFA alumni are still very much involved in the education of future agriculture professionals. They help raise money that goes toward field trip expenses and scholarships. You can even help, while getting a tasty meal, by visiting their pork chop booth on the fairgrounds.