Our Franklin County Young Farmer council (aka the Irish Pirates) met last night at Harrison Farm. We had delicious pizza from the Pump (proper name J&R's Pizza & Pub of Lithopolis, a local institution), and I made my first solo attempt at my Grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe. Per Brother Man Josh, the cookies were a huge success! I was very excited that Josh and his friend Ben were able to attend our council meeting. They both work at Blystone Farm Butcher Shop, and it was great to introduce them to Farm Bureau activities.
State Representative Michael Stinziano was our guest speaker last night. Representative Stinziano's district encompasses much of downtown Columbus, along with Bexley, German Village, Franklinton, and parts of OSU. While this area might not immediately seem to be one that would offer its representative a direct connection to farming, Representative Stinziano has distinguished himself as someone who cares about farming and who understands the importance of agriculture in our community. It is an honor to have this dedicated individual as a friend of the farm community, and as a personal friend.
Representative Stinziano shared his thoughts with our council on the upcoming General Assembly. He discussed what he saw as challenges for the legislature in general, and particularly for farm-related legislation. The 18th House District is metropolitan, but it does include urban gardens and the Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Representative Stinziano has established himself as someone who works with both Republicans & Democrats -- in his District and in the legislature. I cannot fail to mention that amongst his other accompllishments (devoted husband & father, graduate of OSU's law school, former Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections), Michael Stinziano is a fellow graduate of my alma mater, the University of Richmond!
I originally became acquainted with Representative Stinziano when he was running for his first term and met with representatives from our county Farm Bureau. He impressed me then with his open nature and with his willingness to learn about farming, and he has continued to demonstrate those qualities. Yesterday the Ohio House was in session, and thus Representative Stinziano worked late and then drove out to my farm in the dark to talk to a small group of farmers. This was not a fundraising event and it was well after the 2014 elections. Representative Stinziano drove all the way out to the farm after a very long day simply to show his support for the farm community and to discuss issues with local farmers. That speaks volumes to me about this public servant.
Sometimes I forget just how fortunate I am to have met so many political leaders. It is directly thanks to Farm Bureau that I have had these opportunities. Last night's discussion reminded me of how fortunate I am to be involved with a bi-partisan organization that works for common sense in government. Watching Josh & Ben interact with Representative Stinziano (one of the first state politicians they have met), reminded me what great opportunities are provided for political engagement through Farm Bureau. Josh & Ben worked all day at the butcher shop, and then had chocolate chip cookies with a leader of our great state! I must also applaud Representative Stinziano for sharing his love of government with others. His passion for public service and his knowledge of local issues helped to create in these young men a solid appreciation for policy work.
My grandfather was quite active in local politics, and he created in me a love of policy discussions. I think he would have enjoyed the fact that his granddaughter had the opportunity to host a prominent young politician for a discussion with local farmers . . . And I think Grandmother would be delighted that I am attempting to perfect her Chocolate Chip Cookies!