COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Agricultural Council recently announced the 2018 Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees, including Dennis Bolling of Hilliard, Connie Cahill of Dublin, Richard (Dick) Ricker of Fort Jennings and Donniella Winchell of Austinburg. These individuals — who have committed their lives to working in, promoting and advocating for Ohio’s farm community — will be inducted as the 53rd Hall of Fame class on Aug. 3 during a special breakfast ceremony at the Ohio Expo Center.
“Our board is privileged to honor these four individuals who have made significant contributions to Ohio’s top industry,” said Hinda Mitchell, OAC president. “We are proud to recognize this class of hard-working professionals for their unwavering commitment to protecting and advancing Ohio’s food and agriculture community and to giving back and serving others.”
Induction will take place in the Cardinal Hall on the fairgrounds, which opened in 2016 and features an expanded Hall of Fame display and salute to Ohio’s agriculture community. The following four inductees will join 225 prior recipients named since 1966 when the program began.
Dennis Bolling of Hilliard, Ohio
Dennis Bolling has dedicated his life to the betterment of Ohio agriculture and in the agricultural cooperative field. Bolling served as the long-time president and CEO of United Producers Inc. (formerly Producers Livestock Association). Under his leadership, Bolling orchestrated mergers, led the organization through financial challenges, and ensured director education and development. Today, as one of the largest livestock marketing cooperatives in the country, United Producers Inc. serves 30,000 members across the Midwest.
Throughout his career, Bolling has been a generous contributor of his time and leadership to improving agriculture through education and developing agricultural leaders. In 2003, he helped launch the Mid-America Cooperative Council to address the lack of education on cooperatives as a way of doing business.
Bolling has been repeatedly recognized by his peers for his contributions to agriculture. He is a recipient of the Industry Service Awards from the Ohio Pork Council and Ohio Cattlemen’s Association. In 2016, he was inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington.
Connie Cahill of Dublin, Ohio
For more than three decades, Connie Cahill has promoted Ohio agriculture to consumers across the state — from meeting with local food and business editors to conducting cooking demonstrations on TV, and supporting professional groups, including dietitians, OSU Extension agents, and others. Cahill started her consulting business in 1979, and has represented many notable organizations, including Velvet Ice Cream, the Kroger Company, Ohio Poultry Association, Ohio Soybean Council, American Egg Board, Perdue Farms, among many others.
Not only has Cahill’s work supporting Ohio agriculture been exemplary, but her philanthropy has been as well. She currently serves as president of the Ohio State Fair 50 Year Club. Cahill also sits on the board for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Muirfield Association, Inc., and the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Cahill has won numerous industry awards, including the Ohio Poultry Association’s Golden Egg Award, Ohio Dietetic Association’s Outstanding Service Award, and the Ohio Soybean Council’s Outstanding Achievement Award.
Richard (Dick) Ricker of Fort Jennings, Ohio
Richard (Dick) Ricker has been a vigorous leader of Ohio agriculture throughout his career — from participating in livestock judging to serving as the Ohio Pork Council president, and taking grand champion steers to the county fair. Having grown up during the depression in rural Fort Jennings, Ricker understands the value of hard work and is often referred to as an innovator and mentor to those around him.
Ricker is known for his service and commitment to the local community. He has served as a Putnam County Commissioner, on the Jennings Local School Board, and as a member of the Putnam County Pork Producers Council, local Farm Bureau, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Ricker has been recognized and honored by several local, state and national organizations, including induction into the Ohio State Fair Hall of Fame.
Donniella Winchell of Austinburg, Ohio
Donniella Winchell has devoted her entire life to the wine and grape industry in Ohio. Winchell has served as the executive director for the Ohio Wine Producers Association for 40 years and has been instrumental in building the association into one of the most respected wine organizations in the nation. During her tenure, Winchell has grown the number of Ohio wineries from the original 13 to more than 280 wineries today.
Winchell was also influential in the state’s creation of the Ohio Grape Industries Committee, which dramatically changed the trajectory of the wine and grape industry in Ohio, positioning the program as a national model. With Winchell’s leadership, in 1994, OWPA created the nationally-acclaimed two-day Vintage Ohio Wine Festival that has provided a national pattern for expanding the tasting concept to large outdoor venues across the state and nation.
Winchell is a member of several industry organizations, has contributed to several national wine publications and regularly speaks at regional and national wine and tourism conferences.
Invitations will be mailed in late June. For further information about sponsorship in honor of the inductees, please contact the Ohio Agricultural Council at 614-794-8970 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ohio Agricultural Council