Rotary to award agriculture award to Bill Young



Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Bill Young and his son, Mike, come from a long line of farmers. On March 15, the London Rotary Club will honor Bill with the Joe Yoder Award for his contributions to agriculture.

(Posted March 8, 2018)

Joe Yoder Award and Rotary’s Rural-Urban Day Breakfast

On March 15, the London Rotary Club will honor Bill Young with the Joe Yoder Award.

Joe Yoder was a lifelong farmer and a strong advocate for farmers in the community. He was a member of the London Rotary Club and dedicated to the ideal of “Service Above Self.” Since Joe’s death in 2008, the club has presented the Joe Yoder Award to a deserving member of the agricultural community who has:

– made a significant contribution to agriculture in Madison County;

– preservation of the land for the future as an ultimate goal;

– a strong reputation in the agricultural community; and

– agriculture as a significant source of their livelihood.

The award presentation will take place during Rotary’s annual Rural-Urban Day Breakfast, set for 7:30 a.m. at the Madison County Senior Center, 280 W. High St., London. The breakfast is free and open to the public. Dale Minyo, broadcaster for Ohio Ag Net and author of “Digital Dale,” is the guest speaker.

For tickets, contact Nick Adkins, Rotary president-elect, at

From one generation to the next

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

To say farming is in Bill Young’s blood would be an understatement.

With five generations of farmers preceding him on his mother’s side of the family, Bill was practically destined to take up the agricultural trade.

Bill grew up in London, the son of Ruth (Rea) and Henry Young. As a child, he worked some in the summers on the family farm, but it wasn’t until after he completed college and got married that he started to make the move toward what would become his lifelong career.

Bill graduated from Ashland College where he majored in business management and minored in education. He and his wife, Betty, were married in 1967. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past December.

Out of college, Bill spent three years teaching seventh-grade math at London City Schools and farmed on the side.

“At that same time, my dad retired from his job in Columbus and we farmed together on limited acres,” he said.

Bill’s father had worked for 40 years at Columbus Coated Fabrics. He ditched the suit and tie for farm clothes, and he and Bill started expanding the family business.

“We had 369 acres at first, mainly in corn and soybeans,” Bill said. “We got more and more ground, and now we’re farming about 2,400 acres.”

The “we” these days is Bill and his son, Mike, the seventh generation of the family to take up farming. Much of the acreage they tend lies in Oak Run Township with additional parcels in Range and Fairfield townships, all in the southeast quadrant of Madison County.

Over the past five decades, Bill has pursued other agricultural endeavors in tandem with the farming. He was a Dekalb seed dealer for more than 20 years and, with Betty, operated Blue Shoe Flowers for about 10 years, growing and selling bedding plants and hanging baskets.

“It was the hardest I ever worked,” said Betty, who spent 10 years as a nurse and raised the couple’s sons, Mike and Benjamin. Bill and Betty have six grandchildren, three in Range Township and three in Cincinnati.

Six years ago, the couple moved from their house in downtown London to what once was a tenant house on the farmstead along State Route 56, south of London.

“At one time, there were sheep running through here,” Bill said, sitting in the study of the now renovated and expanded home.

As for why farming has held a lifelong appeal for him, Bill said, “I like that you have control over what you’re doing. You answer to nobody else. You’re responsible for getting the job done.”

It’s a challenging occupation, what with the boom-bust cycles that come along, he said.

“If you get into it, you have to be in it for the long haul. We’re in it to continue the operation to the next generation,” he said. While he remains engaged in the day-to-day operations of the farm, Bill credits Mike with being the one who “makes the operation go.”

In addition to his agricultural achievements, Bill has given back to his community through civic service. He was a member of the London Kiwanis Club, chairman of the London Board of Public Utilities, president of the London school board, president of the Madison County Farm Bureau, and a member of the London City Schools Foundation board.

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