Members of the Gerdeman family pose with SWCD Vice-Chairman and Farm Bureau President Craig Pohlman. The Gerdeman family accepted the Van Wert County Ag Hall of Fame award for Earl Gerdeman. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Members of the Gerdeman family pose with SWCD Vice-Chairman and Farm Bureau President Craig Pohlman. The Gerdeman family accepted the Van Wert County Ag Hall of Fame award for Earl Gerdeman. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Van Wert County’s second annual Ag Banquet was held Tuesday at the Senior Center where scholarship winners were recognized, the Van Wert Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) 2019 Cooperator of the Year was revealed, and Earl Gerdeman was inducted as the second member of the Van Wert Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Gerdeman was born on a farm near Middle Point. He attended Middle Point High School where he was the class of 1948’s valedictorian. Gerdeman then attended the Ohio State University where he received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in vocational agriculture.

His first teaching job was at Payne High School until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1952. While serving in the Army, Gerdeman went to Blacksmith School and taught blacksmithing to other soldiers who were going over to Korea. He was discharged in 1954. Gerdeman also taught blacksmithing to teachers around Ohio.

“Lincolnview was Earl’s next teaching position where he taught vocational agriculture for 35 years until his retirement in 1989,” read Craig Pohlman, SWCD Vice-Chairman and Farm Bureau President. “He was an avid gardener and enjoyed sharing his produce with friends and family. He was a life-long farmer and a huge advocate for the farm community.”

Gerdeman received the Ohio Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award in 2013. He also received the honorary American FFA Degree, the honorary state degree, an honorary chapter degree from Lincolnview, was named Outstanding Agriculture Teacher for the state of Ohio and was a past Ambassador Club member for the Ohio Farm Bureau.

Gerdeman served on the governing boards of the Van Wert County Hospital, Midwest Electric Cooperative, and Van Wert County Farm Bureau.

“He helped yearly with Van Wert Soil and Water’s Cows and Plows event where he taught young students about farm history and old fashioned tools,” said Pohlman.

Gerdeman died in 2015 but was posthumously inducted into the Ag Hall of Fame for his contributions to agriculture in the Van Wert community. On his behalf, several family members accepted the award.

Also during the banquet, the 2019 SWCD Conservation award was given this year David Poe, Inc. The award is given to an “outstanding cooperator.” David Poe, Inc. recently installed a 16.7-acre filter strip and have utilized incentive programs and no-till/strip-till practices.

During the banquet, several scholarships winners were recognized. The SWCD Scholarship was given to Tanner Matthews. Five Farm Bureau Scholarship recipients were also honored. They included Ethan Kemler, Kayla Pohlman, Matt Macklin, Mckenzie Davis, and Macala Ashbaugh.

In addition, a farewell award was given to Kevin Heffelfinger who served on the Farm Bureau Board for 15 years.

The speaker for the evening was Matt Reese of Ohio Country Journal who gave a presentation on “Making Mud into Mud Pies from the Toughest Planting Season in Ohio History,” which focused on the tough Ohio planting season, silver linings, and lessons learned for moving forward.

Prior to the meeting, an election was held to fill two Board of Supervisor positions. Candidates were Bob Gehres, Craig Pohlman, and Kris Young. As a result of the election, Pohlman and Young were elected to serve on the Board for a term of three years beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Dinner was served by Gibson’s Backyard BBQ and meeting sponsors were Ag Credit, Burtch Seed, Farm Credit, Kenn Feld Group, Mercer Landmark, Glenmore, Ohio City, Convoy, Middle Point, Pond Seed, H.G. Violet, and Williamson Insurance.

The Ag Banquet marked the 70th annual meeting and was co-hosted by the Soil & Water Conservation District and the Farm Bureau.