A year ago the howling winds of Hurricane Ike swept through the Farm Science Review grounds in Madison County destroying the majority of the tents that awaited the opening of the annual farm show. A Herculean effort by the staff and the suppliers restored almost all of the canvas by the time the show as ready to start. As the crowd arrived, one last vision of the storm lingered in the form of the circus-sized vice president’s tent, which was shredded and hung on its poles like the torn sheets of ghost costume.
Because the tent was unusable one of the Review’s big events, the vice president’s luncheon, had to be cancelled. Bobby Moser, v.p. for agriculture and dean of the college of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, recalled the scene as he welcomed “650 of his closest friends” to this year’s version of the annual luncheon.
“Fortunately no one was injured,” Moser said praising the Review staff for quickly getting the show in order last year. “The poles in here were dancing.”
Moser then introduced E. Gordon Gee, OSU’s bow-tied president. Gee joked that his talkative nature had caused some to refer to him as “Hurricane Gordon.” He followed that with a whirlwind of praise for all things Ohio. Gee admitted that he was a "born-again, born-again Ohioan” after serving at four other schools. His five tenures make him the most traveled university president around, according to Google.
Gee emphasized his journeys around the state of Oho during his address to the group. He cited visits to all 88 of the state’s counties, describing trips to various farms and farm homes during his first year. He recalled a cow-milking adventure that ended with a swish of the animal’s tail and the need for a change of shirts. He noted that he was not sure he really wanted to know what a methane digester was, but toured one anyway.
Gee admitted that “Most of you know I know nothing about agriculture. I love to eat it. But I know nothing about it.”
He observed that the past year has been difficult for the state’s economy. Nonetheless Gee claimed that he firmly believes that “Ohio will not only survive the set backs, but thrive”
“Ohio’s strength is in agriculture,” Gee said. “The driving force behind the state’s economy lies in this room,” he said. “Ohio’s smart farmers, lush fields and fertile ground cannot be out-sourced.”
He described the Farm Science Review as the meeting of agriculture and science with that “incomparable Midwest initiative. Farming is giant, world class, world changing work.”
Gee reiterated, “I know nothing about agriculture, but I appreciate what you do. And I know the students you send to us come off the farms and fields of Ohio and contribute so much to the quality of our university.”
The crowd broke into applause. It may be called the vice president’s luncheon, but it was surely the president’s stage.