(Posted April 2, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The smell of bacon, biscuits and coffee wafted through the room as Rotarians and farmers filled the Madison County Senior Center for the London Rotary Club’s annual Rural Urban Day.
Held March 28, the event marked the 35th year the Rotary Club has set aside a day to honor area residents who have made their careers in agriculture. It also marked the 12th year the club has presented the Joe Yoder Award.
“We have had many farming Rotarians over the years…Joe Yoder was one of those long standing members,” said Rotarian Greg King. “In 2008, after his passing, the club chose to recognize Joe’s contributions to Rotary, farming, and the community by creating the Joe Yoder Award.”
The award recognizes an individual or couple who has made a career in farming or an agriculture-related business and who has a concern for conservation in doing so.
This year’s Joe Yoder Award went to Dennis Wilt who, with his wife, Lisa, farms over 500 acres in Madison County.
Wilt, who did not grow up in a farming family, got his start in agriculture at age 10 when he began buying cattle for 4-H projects. He later got involved in FFA, serving as an officer while in high school. He started farming at age 17 when he rented his first piece of ground.
“When he wasn’t in the field on the new adventure, he was helping out his father in the family business, selling parts in their NAPA store,” King said. “He went on to get involved in many organizations and causes related to farming and conservation, and he was one of the first in Madison County to do no-till beans.”
Wilt is a member of the Central Ohio Young Farmers, Corn Growers Association, Soybean Growers Association, Madison County Farm Bureau, and the Ohio State University Extension-Madison County Advisory Board. He has helped to organize the Farm Bureau’s annual Breakfast on the Farm event and has assisted in putting on pedal pulls for more than 40 years. He also fought to protect farmland in opposition to the proposed Darby Refuge.
Wilt and his wife have two children, Austin Wilt and Amy Nichols.
Joel Penhorwood, a broadcaster for Ohio Ag Net, served as guest speaker for this year’s Rural Urban Day Breakfast.