by Ken Ford - Fayette County ANR, Extension Educator
Wayne E. Arnold and John P. Gruber were inducted this week into the Fayette County Agricultural Hall of Fame at an annual banquet that once again highlighted the longstanding heritage of agriculture in this community.
With the addition of Arnold and Gruber, the Ag Hall of Fame list of members grew to 54 since it began in 2001. It was created to recognize outstanding residents of Fayette County for their accomplishments, inventions, forward-thinking approaches and contributions to the agricultural industry. These characteristics are not limited to Fayette County, but also include state, national and international segments of the industry.
Both Arnold and Gruber received certificates at Monday’s banquet at the Mahan Building to mark their inductions. In addition, a plaque of each inductee will be placed in the trophy case along with all other members of the Fayette County Agricultural Hall of Fame. The trophy case is located at the Agricultural Center, 1415 Clinton Ave. in Washington C.H.
Arnold was born May 28, 1942 to the late John and Wynona (LaFollette) Arnold on Reynolds Road in Jasper Township in Fayette County. His family moved to Clinton County on Snowhill Road in 1945. He attended Wayne High School, later named Simon Kenton and is currently called East Clinton. In 1958, Arnold’s family moved back to Fayette County near the Madison County line and he graduated from Madison South High School in 1960. While attending Madison South, he was a member of the FFA chapter and received his State Farmer degree in 1960.
Wayne began farming with his father and today he continues to farm full-time. During that time period, he has fed out several thousand head of lambs per year along with raising numerous registered Angus cattle. Arnold lives with his wife Leslye on the family farm on Palmer Road. Arnold has two brothers, Howard and Marvin; a son, Kevin; and two grandsons, Quintin and Dylan.
Since 1964, Arnold has been a member of the Miami Trace FFA Boosters. He has served as a director of the Fayette County Agricultural Society for 20 years. He has also served as a 4-H advisor for 55 years. Along with Harold Skaggs, they designed the layout and moved the campgrounds. A personal goal of Arnold’s through the years was to see a New Small Animal Barn on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. The 2015 fair made that dream become a reality. Arnold was very instrumental with many fundraisers by the fair board, solicited donations and spent countless hours to complete the new small animal barn. Arnold physically assisted with the demolition of the small animal, cattle and hog barns.
Currently, Arnold serves as head of grounds for the fair board, head of the Small Animal Barn and head of the campgrounds. For many of the events held on the fairgrounds one will see Arnold hauling his own equipment to the grounds to prepare for events. He not only assists with the sales of small animals, but he has transported animals to the stockyards after the sale.
Arnold’s personal reward for the hours he has given to the youth of Fayette County has been watching the success and leadership of the youth develop. He believes whole-heartedly in the 4-H motto: “To Make the Best Better.” The youth of Fayette County are always kept in mind when developing the fairgrounds for the future, according to Arnold. His time spent on the fair board has been rewarding, especially when he has been involved with the remodeling of the Mahan, Fine Arts, and Breezeway buildings, the construction of the Hog, Sheep, Cattle and Small Animal Barns, and most recently the new restroom facilities. These improvements have been made for our community to enjoy and utilize for many years to come.
Gruber was born Feb. 2, 1946 in Marion, Ohio. He married his wife Sandy in 1969 and they have two daughters, Andrea and Marcia, and five grandchildren. They currently reside near New Holland. Following high school graduation, Gruber attended The Ohio State University where he graduated with a B.S. degree in agriculture in 1968 and later obtained a M.S. degree in agriculture economics in 1974. During college he was a member of Alpha Zeta Fraternity and participated in numerous other university activities.
Upon college graduation, Gruber served as County Extension Agent, 4-H in Champaign County from 1968 to 1972. Other job experiences included Fayette County Extension Agriculture Agent from 1972 to 1979 (brought him to Fayette County), O.S.U. Extension Agronomist specializing in agronomic crops for 18 southwest Ohio counties from 1979 to 1981, and staff agronomist for The Madison Seed Co. from 1981 to 1985. While Fayette Co. Agriculture Agent, via Gruber’s leadership, the soybean portion of the Fayette Co. Corn and Soybean Club was started, including the economic analysis part of the results publication. Data from the club results was presented at conferences in upstate New York and Canada.
In 1981, Gruber struck out on his own and started Ag Consultants, Inc., a crop production and farm management consulting service. Farms in Fayette, Pickaway, Ross and Madison counties plus one farm in Kentucky were contracted for consulting purposes. In addition, a major part of the company’s efforts was the conducting of agronomic research for seed, fertilizer and chemical industries. Gruber’s farm provided an excellent site for the testing of many new agricultural chemicals and compounds before they went public, and some even before they went to universities for research and testing. This endeavor was highly successful, provided employment opportunities, and added to the local economy. During this time, Gruber also farmed up to 1,500 acres, including grain and livestock in Fayette, Pickaway and Ross counties. He currently backgrounds 500 to 600 feeder cattle per year and maintains 25 brood cows.
During his career, Gruber was a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Ohio Certified Crop Advisor Board, of which he was a founding member and chairman from 1995-1998, Weed Science Society of America, State NRCS Tech Committee in 1998, and director on the International Certified Crop Consultant Board and a member of the board’s Exam and Procedure Comm. and Editorial Advisory Board. He was also a member of the original committee that developed and wrote the test for the Ohio Certified Crop Advisor program, served as chairman of the CCA Exam Committee and was a representative member to the National CCA Exam Committee.
Other memberships have included: The Ohio and American Soybean Assoc., of which he served on the Ohio Board and was membership vice president, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Top Farmers of Ohio, of which he served as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, and Premium Ag Commodities, Inc. (three years as president). Gruber also participated in, and attended numerous Ohio and national training and certification seminars and conferences over the years in order to expand his expertise and keep abreast of new agriculture technologies. These were conducted by government agencies, chemical companies, universities and other agricultural organizations.
Gruber has been active in several community and service organizations. These include The Ohio Farm Bureau (two terms on the Fayette County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees), past member of the Washington Court House Rotary Club, Fayette Co. Zoning Board of Appeals, Wayne Township Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Fayette Co. Agronomy Committee.
The membership list of the Fayette County Ag Hall of Fame and applications for the 2019 Agricultural Hall of Fame are available online at www.fayette.osu.edu. The application can either be completed online or a printed application can be picked up at the Ohio State University Extension Office, located in suite 100 in the Agricultural Center, Washington C.H.