Each summer, we travel across Ohio with students, leaders and friends to connect with communities throughout our great state. Most recently, in southern and southwestern Ohio, we visited towns and cities in five counties. We received outstanding hospitality — granted, fan-favorite Brutus was along for most of the ride. The evidence of the impact of Ohio State was clear across a range of industries and businesses that help fuel Ohio’s innovation economy.
We first stopped at the opening day of the Scioto County Fair in Lucasville. Here, enthusiastic young people from the county’s vast 4-H community, which includes more than 1,000 participants and volunteers, presented their yearlong projects for exhibition. They represent the future of an agricultural economy that has helped drive Ohio’s success for generations. Agricultural innovation is vitally important to our region and fundamental to Ohio State’s land-grant mission. Our university was founded nearly 150 years ago to expand knowledge and elevate the quality of life for Ohioans and beyond. That work continues today. Ohio State Extension offices, including one in Scioto County, work closely with communities across the state to disseminate evidence-based solutions and leading technological advancements.
We enjoyed lunch at the fair with community members, students from our Buckeye Bus and Dean Cathann Kress of our College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. We were reminded of the many collaborations with individuals and families who work each day to grow and raise our food.
Our second stop, General Electric Aviation’s Peebles Test Operation, represents the high-tech heart of a global industry. With seven outdoor and four indoor sites situated across 7,000 acres, the facility tests some of the most powerful jet engines in the world. GE Aviation is the largest employer of Ohio State graduates in the Cincinnati-Dayton area. Five hundred Buckeyes, including 10 at the Peebles Test Operation, are working on the most innovative technologies of aviation’s future.
Building a better future was the theme of a service project in Cincinnati’s Washington Park with partners from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Students, staff, elected officials and others joined forces to clean and repurpose 60 Coca-Cola syrup drums into recycling bins. These will be placed throughout Cincinnati and Ohio State’s Columbus campus. It’s all part of a larger and ever-continuing effort to make our campuses and communities among the nation’s leaders in sustainability.
The tour also included treasures of our past that still inspire today.
In Ripley, we toured the restored John Rankin Memorial Home, a National Historic Landmark and a key stop on the Underground Railroad. Rankin and his family — including his wife, Jean, and their 13 children — are believed to have assisted more than 2,000 slaves seeking their freedom. We appreciated the opportunity to learn the history of this abolitionist minister and those he helped. Standing atop beautiful Freedom Hill, where the Rankin house overlooks the Ohio River, is a special experience.
In Mason, we visited with third- and fourth-generation members of the Graeter family, whose business has delighted millions in Ohio — and, now, well beyond. Founded in 1870, the ice cream institution shares a birthday with Ohio State. We are both turning 150 next year. We did a little early celebrating together with scoops of Buckeye Blitz (you guessed it: chocolate and peanut butter).
Ohio is our home. We remain thankful for all the partnerships and collaborations that make this state unique — past, present and future.