For those of you that follow this farm column on a regular basis, you probably noticed the absence of articles by John Parker the last couple of months. Unfortunately, his absence will continue as he passed away on Dec. 8.
He has left a legacy for his family, all that knew him, and especially the agricultural industry that he loved.
John was born in Portage County but grew up in North Bloomfield, Trumbull County. He attended and earned his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at The Ohio State University. Then he attended Cornell University to earn his Master of Science in Agriculture.
His education equipped him for a life of service to the agricultural industries of Ohio. John worked for The Ohio State University Extension Service for 34 years, serving in many capacities in northeastern Ohio.
From John’s own words and the confirmation from others, John’s advocacy for agriculture did not end when he retired.
John had many accomplishments, and here are a few. He was chair of the committee that purchased the land and started 4-H Camp Whitewood in Windsor, which is still in operation, providing education opportunities to the youth of Ohio. John chaired a committee to secure funding for and construction of the Trumbull County Agriculture and Family Education Center (OSU Extension office in Cortland).
John was awarded the Ohio Farm Bureau Distinguished Educator Award — a greatly deserved recognition of a lifetime of agricultural education.
John’s master’s degree focused on agricultural marketing, so it makes perfect sense that when the northeastern Ohio Amish dairy producers needed help with the marking of their milk, John was there to help. He acted in an advisory role to the Middlefield Original Cheese Cooperative, helping them reorganize their business and build a new cheese manufacturing plant, which provided a secure market for its members’ milk.
My father, a longtime friend of John’s, told me that the dairy industry was near and dear to his heart. John proved this as he served as the NE OH-Ohio State University Extension Dairy Specialist from 1968 to 1982.
I asked my dad if he had any memories or thoughts he wanted to share. He said that he will always remember John’s passion for agriculture and how he was such an encourager of any individual or organization that was involved with agriculture. And that John was so willing to share his knowledge or help you work through an issue so that you would succeed.
Something my dad remembers John saying more than once, “Get involved and speak your mind.”
My dad claims that the knowledge he gained by working with John Parker over the years in Farm Bureau, Ohio Dairy Farmers Federation, Geauga Landmark, and many other endeavors, was instrumental in his personal and professional success.
We cannot forget this farm column that you are reading today. John, along with several Trumbull County board members, thought having a regular media outlet would be a great way to share agriculture with consumers. John led the way as relationships were built with the staff of the Tribune Chronicle in Warren, relationships that are still strong today, more than 25 years later.
Contributors have varied over the years, but John maintained a constant presence. He coordinated the schedule until he encouraged me to take over. So, when I get a bit passionate about an issue, I am going to blame it on John because I am just doing what he said — “Get involved and speak your mind.”
As I was reading up on all of John’s accomplishments, I found a quote by Ray Miller when John was receiving the OSU Distinguished Ag Alumni Award in 2001. I believe it sums up John’s career well. Miller said, “Parker is being recognized for a career in extension marked by consistent success and an unyielding commitment to helping people help themselves.”
Thank you, John, for your service to others and to agriculture.