By Dustin Ensinger
A longtime teacher and Delaware County resident is set to be honored for his long career in agricultural education.
John Watkins, who lives near Radnor, will be inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Council Hall of Fame on Aug. 1.
“I was shocked,” he said of learning of his induction. “I was very surprised, but very appreciative and thankful.”
Watkins was born and raised in Delaware County. He graduated from Ohio State in 1951 and soon after took a job teaching vocational agriculture at several Marion County high schools.
“I tried to do two things: I tried to teach kids how to earn a living, and how to live a good life,” he said.
After 16 years teaching students, Watkins moved on to serve as the Assistant Ohio State Supervisor for the Department of Vocational Education. In that role, he supervised about 100 vocational agriculture teachers across the state.
“I’m very thankful to have had the chance to work with many agricultural people across Ohio,” he said.
After 34 years in the agricultural education field, Watkins took his expertise into the political area, serving four terms as a Marion County Commissioner. During that time, he served as chairman on the Agriculture Committee of the Ohio County Commissioners Association, helping to impact policy across the state.
Watkins said his decision to get into agricultural education was influenced by two teachers that taught the class at the now-defunct Radnor High School.
“I had two different vocation agricultural teachers when I was in high school that I highly respected,” he said. “They had as much influence as probably anybody.”
Over his 34 years in the educational industry, he witnessed drastic changes to the way in which agriculture was taught.
“We changed the program from a production-type curriculum to an agricultural business-type curriculum,” he said.
While the curriculum changed, the goal did not.
“The biggest reward is the opportunity to see youngsters grow into useful and productive citizens,” he said.
Watkins will be inducted alongside William Hoewischer Sr., Don Ralph and Bernard Heisner.
“Our Board is pleased to be honoring such a diverse group of inductees into this year’s class,” Jenny Hubble, OAC president, said in a press release. “Each inductee stands out individually for his exceptional contributions to Ohio’s agriculture industry, but together they represent the passion, leadership and hard work evidenced by their collective decades of unmatched experience in farming and agriculture.”
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.