John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, learned about the many ways in which outdoor labs, innovative technologies, public-private partnerships and technical education are shaping Ohio's economic and environmental future during a Sept. 4 visit to CFAES's Wooster campuses.
Carey, who was appointed last April, toured the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI). The Board of Regents oversees the state's public higher-education system.
Accompanying Carey were Ohio State Interim President Joseph Alutto and Ohio Rep. Ron Amstutz, whose 1st House District includes Wooster.
Commercialization, partnerships at OARDC
The tour featured OARDC's BioHio Research Park, a business and technology center focused on commercializing agbioscience discoveries and establishing partnerships between Ohio State and private companies.
"Outdoor laboratories" such as OARDC's long-term no-till crop plots are crucial to Ohio's farmers and to efforts to improve water quality.
Mel Kurtz, president of quasar energy group, BioHio's first tenant, told Carey and Alutto that most of the progress his renewable energy company has made can be attributed to the support provided by Ohio State and the partnership the company has established with the university.
"We now have 13 working biodigesters, processing 400,000 tons of organic waste and producing biogas for electricity and for vehicle fuel," Kurtz said. "We have also had a number of interns from ATI and have hired several Ohio State graduates."
The visitors also heard from Katrina Cornish, Ohio State's endowed chair in bioemergent materials. Cornish displayed a variety of products that OARDC researchers and industry partners are developing from natural sources of rubber that can be grown in Ohio, and which the university is also breeding for commercial production in the state.
The tour continued at OARDC's no-till crop plots, where soil scientist Warren Dick talked about the importance of such "outdoor laboratories" to Ohio's farmers and efforts to improve water quality.
ATI students' high employability
The tour concluded on ATI's campus, where faculty and administrators emphasized the high employability of students and the importance of internships.
Seventy percent of ATI students who are planning to obtain fulltime work after graduation have a job in hand before they get their diploma.
At ATI, every student enrolled in an associate of applied science major completes a paid industry internship as part of his or her degree requirements. This internship has a great impact on job prospects, as 70 percent of ATI students who are planning to obtain fulltime work after graduation have a job in hand before they get their diploma.
Speaking on the tour was Kirk Gasser, a 2012 ATI graduate in crops management and soil conservation. Gasser interned with Town & Country Co-Op, which has locations throughout northeast Ohio and is one of the larger employers of ATI interns in the agronomy area. Gasser was offered fulltime employment as staff agronomist after completing his internship.
Carey also heard from Logan Armbrust, a 2012 graduate in power equipment. Armbrust completed an internship with Leppo Equipment, which is the distributor for Bobcat and JLG equipment for a large portion of Ohio, and was hired to support the Canton operation.
Dale Leppo, one of the company's owners, is a member of ATI's Key Advisory Committee. He is enthusiastic about the preparation and skills that ATI graduates bring with them in terms of their business and technical acumen in a company that highly values customer relations, said Frances Whited, ATI’s public relations coordinator.
-- Mauricio Espinoza, Communications