The agricultural community in Fulton County was proud to induct four deserving individuals in the Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame this past Monday night, August 21st in Archbold. The annual event is to recognize selected farmers or agribusiness leaders from our county who have committed over 25 years or more of service to the agricultural industry in our county, state or region. Since 1983, there have been 140 honorees inducted into the Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame. Inductees are selected by the Hall of Fame Committee in July after all applications have been reviewed. This year’s winners were recognized at Monday’s ceremony and will have a permanent plaque hung in their honor at the Merchants Building on the Fulton County Fairgrounds. However, for the 2017 fair, these four individuals’ plaques and biographies will be hung in the Hall of Fame Pavilion, just south of the Fulton County Junior Fair Building. Each honoree will receive an identical plaque for their home, thanks to the 2017 sponsor Midwest Drainage.
The 2017 Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees are Walter H. Lange, Cathy Leininger, Bill Serna and Jane Wyse.
Walter H. Lange is being recognized for his support of forestry management and the tree farm system in Fulton County. Walt has maintained the 56 acre Lange Tree Farm for over 27 years in Swancreek Township. He has planted over 8,000 trees that include white oak, red oak, black walnut, black cherry, white pine and American chestnut. He realizes how important trees are to the land at the local, state, and national level. In 2010 the Lange Tree Farm was recognized as the Ohio Tree Farm of the Year and in 2011 as the National-Northeast Outstanding Regional Tree Farm of the Year.
Walt is very passionate and will talk to anyone about his forestry knowledge and tree farm. He regularly conducts presentations and host camps for several school groups and clubs. He helped establish Chestnut Education Plots at 4-H Camp Palmer and the Maumee State Forest. He also helped set up an American Chestnut Workshop & Tour in Swanton. While being a member of the Swanton Tree Commission he helped arrange several tree care workshops and arranged for Arbor Day tree plantings at Park Elementary School. He hosts winter camps for the Boy Scouts for many years, even making it on the Toledo evening news. He has authored and been awarded an American Forest Foundation-Tree Farm Education Grant and travels often to Washington DC to lobby on behalf of the family forest owners.
Walt is well known and active in his church and community. He is a member of St. Richard Catholic Church, serving on several committees throughout the years. He has been a member of the Swanton Village Tree Commission for five years and has served on the Fulton County and Swancreek Township Zoning commission as well as the Swancreek Water District Board.
Walt continues to help at the Fulton County Fair being the Poultry Show Coordinator and weigh master since 1980. He served on the Fulton County Fair Board from 1996-2002, on the Fulton County Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors from 2003-2006, and is currently on the Advisory Board for Fulton County OSU Extension.
Cathy Leininger was a lifelong resident of Fulton County and lived in the Fayette area. She was a wife, mother and grandmother spending her lifetime exhibiting dairy cattle and promoting the dairy cattle industry at the Fulton County Fair until her passing in 2014.
In 1972 Cathy was the Ohio Holstein Queen. She assisted in the operation of Mor-Ann Holsteins, a small dairy farm in Fayette. Cathy and her husband Lee farmed 400 acres and she was co-owner and operator of Cottonwood Vale registered Black & Red Holsteins. Cathy was quite involved in the dairy industry as secretary to the Ohio District 10 Holstein Club, and representative to both the National Red and White and Holstein Dairy Cattle Association conventions. She has always worked hard to teach young people, including her grandkids, the value of the agriculture in our community.
In the community, Cathy participated in many groups including Cub Scout/Boy Scout Leader, Girl Scout leader, director for the Maumee Valley Girl Scout Council summer day camp, Fayette Cheerleading squad and 4-H volunteer. Additionally, she helped many groups organize fundraisers benefiting groups such as Relay for Life, Help Whip Cancer, after proms for area schools, libraries, and multiple school athletic and academic groups.
Cathy was active with the West Franklin United Methodist Church and Fayette United Methodist Church for over 45 years. She loved meeting new people in the community and maintaining those relationships she had built throughout life. Cathy’s husband, Lee, received the award on behalf of the Cathy Leininger family.
Bill Serna has contributed to Fulton County agriculture through his involvement in the Fulton County Fair. Bill was an active member of the Fulton County Fair Board in 1989-2015 and was director in charge of the poultry building and the harness racing.
Bill graduated from Lyons High School in Royalton Township and then served three years in the U. S. Marines before making Lyons his life home. When Bill became a Fair Board director in 1989, he was put in charge of the poultry barn, and the poultry barn remained his responsibility his entire 27 years. In 1997 Bill lead the efforts to build the new poultry barn on the fairgrounds and has seen to it to fill the barn with a wide variety of poultry. Bill served on the advisory committee for best practices of county fair harness racing in Ohio for the purpose of maintain improving the horse racing industry and our racing events at the fair. Bill has always been generous with his time for the fair throughout the years. Even in retirement, you will still see him helping to help make the Fulton County Fair one of the best fairs in Ohio.
Bill is married Janice and they raised five children and now have 10 grandchildren. In the community Bill served on the cemetery board of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and is a current member of St. Casper’s Church in Wauseon.
Jane Wyse served agriculture in Fulton County for nearly 28 years as the Office Associate for the Agriculture and Natural Resources program at the Ohio State University Extension Office.
Jane grew up on a dairy farm in northern Fulton County in Chesterfield Township and she continues to live there today. While at OSU Extension, Jane has provided support to 4-H programs like camp, fair, 4-H enrollment, skillathons, livestock sale and project judging. Jane has also helped coordinate quality agriculture pesticide recertification programs, nutrient management workshops and regional agronomy programs like Corn & Soybean Day each year in Archbold. Until her retirement in 2017, Jane provided all the office support for the Fulton County Agriculture Hall of Fame program since its inception in 1983. Prior to her service with OSU Extension, Jane worked for a local accountant assisting farmers and small business prepare their income taxes.
Additionally, along with her husband Terry and sons’ families, Jane has been an active participant in the family farm operations for over 40 years as bookkeeper, truck driver, meal deliverer and errand runner.
Jane is always willing to help in any way when needed for work, church, family, neighbors and agriculture. Jane has been a long time member of the North Clinton Church and helps by teaching, being a youth sponsor and youth mentor. She is the secretary/treasurer for the board of the Northwest Ohio Agape House, a shelter for women and children in our community. While Jane is always up for tackling tough tasks, she is a humble servant who prefers to work behind the scenes. Jane’s efforts with 4-H youth, church youth and her grandkids show her genuine concern for the next generation of agriculturists in our county.
Congratulations to these inductees into the 2017 Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame!