In many ways he stayed on the farm
For Fred Cooke ’68, his life-long passion for agriculture – and supporting young people interested in agriculture – took root during his youth on a farm.
He received his BS and MA degrees from The Ohio State University in 1972 and 1975 respectively. Since then, he has found many innovative ways to be active in his agricultural community. Mr. Cooke has taught at several institutions since earning his degrees, and they include The Ohio State University, Greene County Vocational School, Southern State College, Willard High School and, beginning in 1983, SHS.
During his years at SHS, he initiated and built the Strauch Agriscience Center, a facility for advanced livestock training; it was the first of its kind in Ohio schools. He was also key to the process of receiving FFA American Degrees for many students, the first two being Mike Stover and Mike Lantz. He retired from SHS in 2003.
After retiring, he served on the Richland County Soil and Water Board, where he received the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award in 2004. He was also awarded the Outstanding Soil and Water Conservationist Award in the year 2008. In 2013, Mr. Cooke was appointed to the Ohio Consumer Council Governing Board by Attorney General Mike DeWine. He served on this council for six years. Mr. Cooke served as president of the Richland County Farm Bureau and received the Murray Lincoln Award in 2016 for signing 124 new members – far exceeding the requirements for this award.
In 2019, Mr. Cooke was appointed to the Board of Regents for the Mansfield campus of The Ohio State University, and he continues to serve in that position. Presently, he also serves Farm To Plate, a program that he initiated for Richland County and the Hazel Grove Farm Bureau Advisory Council. He also serves on the board for Richland County Soil and Water, and the Richland County Farm Bureau. Mr. Cooke also is active in the Richland County Fair and was instrumental in the fair’s barn and show arena remodeling project.
Observes a former teaching colleague, “Fred Cooke has served his community for over half a decade by improving agricultural education and access for all people.” Says another former faculty colleague, “You will be hard-pressed to find someone more passionate about farming than Fred. He still speaks at the FFA Banquet each year and his last couple talks have been about farm safety.”