Baughman Scholarship established to fund Graham graduates pursuing vo-ag


By Katie Milligan

Contributing writer

ST. PARIS – Alumni of the Graham High School vocational agriculture (vo-ag) program have set up a scholarship in honor of brothers Cliff and Dale Baughman, former ag teachers and impactful mentors at Graham.

This committee consists of graduates of Graham’s vo-ag program from various years: co-chairs Terry Howell and Alex Ward, alongside Brian Case, Paul McGuire, Tim Howell, Cliff Baughman, Paul Pullins and Steve Jenkins.

“For me, I think the older you get, the more you feel a responsibility to give back and an appreciation for people that have influenced your life,” said Terry Howell, 1966 Graham alumnus and student of Dale Baughman. “Graham influenced my life, and the encouragement that [Dale] gave me to go to Ohio State … opened so many doors for me.”

The Baughmans’ legacy at Graham begins in the school’s early years, when it was formed in 1957.

Cliff, just 15 months older than Dale, graduated from the Ohio State University and taught for one year in the U.S. before moving overseas to Guam for two years to teach agricultural classes there. After moving home, he began teaching vo-ag at Graham in 1964 and continued teaching until his retirement in 1994.

During this impressive career, Cliff not only taught vo-ag, but served as a Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor, track and field coach, and the Friday night voice of the Graham football team (in addition to announcing for the Graham wrestling team).

Moreover, Cliff’s service did not cease with retirement; he continued to better the Graham community by sitting on the board of education from 2000-2008, as well as assisting the Graham Athletic Boosters.

“He’s been a big supporter of the whole school, and done far more than any one person in his tenure there in vo-ag, and probably more than several,” said Dale Baughman, Cliff’s brother and fellow Graham vo-ag teacher.

After graduating from DeGraff High School in 1957, Dale also attended the Ohio State University initially on a scholarship from Bellefontaine’s Hopewell Dairy. He then graduated early in 1961 before beginning his educational career at Graham that fall. He taught vocational agriculture there for three years (two of those years full-time) before earning his Master’s degree at Wittenberg University and moving on to be the assistant principal at the high school in 1964.

“Graham really had the support of farmers, of the board, of the administration, and it was a growing operation,” Dale said of the Graham vo-ag program. “It was only five years total, two years of which were full-time teaching, but it did a lot for me, probably more than I did for it.”

After his time at Graham, Dale went on in 1966 to serve Montgomery County by assisting in the establishment of the Joint Vocational School (JVS) there, where he began as the assistant superintendent. Dale was later promoted to full-time superintendent in 1975, where he remained for over 20 years until his retirement in 1997.

Terry Howell became inspired to form this committee several years ago when he learned of his colleague, Larry Baker, setting up a similar scholarship fund in honor of Donzil Hall, legendary Graham teacher, baseball coach and athletic director of 33 years.

“It triggered me to say, boy, I feel responsible; I need to do something for Graham,” said Terry Howell, who later became a vo-ag teacher himself thanks to Dale’s influence. “From our group’s standpoint, the Baughmans influenced a lot of the decision-making and career paths that some of us took, in terms of widening our perspective to other possibilities.”

According to Howell, the Baughmans’ influence helped foster an important part of Graham’s character that would only deepen over the following decades: agricultural studies.

“Agriculture, really, not only in this county but specifically in the Graham school district, is a predominant industry. It’s our culture; it’s a fabric,” Howell said. “[The Baughmans] invested, in the early part of the Graham school development, almost 40 years of teaching experience between the two of them that helped mentor a lot of people and influenced a lot of families that are currently farming in the school district.”

For example, several other former students of Cliff and Dale shared stories about how the Baughman brothers influenced their lives.

Tim Howell, Graham High School class of 1975, was in Cliff’s vo-ag class his junior and senior years, and remembers that Cliff provided much-needed mentorship during key moments of his life.

“I didn’t know which direction my future was going to go, and he gave me a lot of encouragement to basically follow my dreams,” said Tim. “Cliff really did make a big impact, even though he probably doesn’t realize what he did to help me, just in mentorship. I look back and just have the utmost respect for the man.”

Brian Case, 1991 Graham alumnus, student of Cliff’s, and fellow board of education member, called Cliff “gracious and humble.” Though Case did not grow up farming, he wanted to pursue vo-ag and became discouraged because it was not seen as “college prep.” However, Cliff took time to mentor Case, and through Cliff’s guidance, Case has been able to build a successful farming career.

“[Cliff] was always very giving and wanting to see people succeed,” Case said. “Even after the school day, we’d go down to the vo-ag room with Cliff and work on marketing, ask any questions we’d have. I wasn’t a big farm name in the community, but he still took time to make sure that I was successful.”

Case also commended not only Cliff’s educational abilities, but also his service in other areas of the Graham community.

“He was very practical. He could take complicated things and put them in everyday terms that anybody could understand. He had a gift for doing that,” said Case. “And he was more than just an ag teacher – he’s done a lot of other behind-the-scenes stuff, and he went above and beyond.”

Terry Howell explained that in 1957, one U.S. farmer fed about 26 people, but by 2016, that number increased to 155, and now has risen as high as 180 considering recent agricultural innovations. With farmers being more crucial to the economy than ever, the committee hopes that this scholarship will help nurture the same love for vo-ag that the Baughmans did during their time at Graham.

“What we wanted to do is encourage and promote graduates at Graham to pursue careers in Ag, and we used the Baughmans as the namesake,” Terry Howell said.

The Baughman Ag Scholarship committee met for the first time in November 2022, and by May 17, at GHS’s Honors Night, the committee awarded its first two $1,000 endowments to seniors Max Ward and Elaina Purk.

“They were really strong applicants,” said Howell. “They didn’t necessarily have to be in vo-ag, or FFA, or 4-H, although all that helped – we were looking for people that were passionate about pursuing an agricultural career.”

Next spring, the committee will award scholarships to 2024 Graham seniors pursuing post-high school education in the area of vocational agriculture – in any four-year or two-year program, technical school, or other job or career training program.

The committee has partnered with the Springfield Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to handle the collection and administration of funds. Though the call for donations has not yet gone public, the committee is almost halfway to its initial goal of $30,000, and hopes to eventually reach $100,000.

The committee has recently finalized solicitation letters, which will be distributed widely as soon as possible. However, they are accepting donations now.

Overall, Terry Howell hopes that the Baughman Ag Scholarship will help carry on the agricultural legacy of Graham to a new generation – as Case put it, “It’s one of those things that gets in your blood.”

“The overarching theme is that we need to continually make students and parents aware of the tremendous opportunity in agriculture,” Terry Howell said. “From an environmental stewardship standpoint, it’s just amazing how much opportunity there is for food production and security, and certainly we’re right in the middle of it here in Champaign County.”

“Agriculture affects everybody, and every discipline is important, but probably nothing as much as ag,” said Dale. “It’s the support of the community, largely because of Cliff and a few others, that it’s a good program, and that’s why people want to support it.”

For more information or to donate online, please visit the Springfield Foundation’s site at or call (937) 324-8773, or contact any of the committee members listed above. Checks should be made out to the Springfield Foundation, and donations can be sent directly to the Baughman Ag Scholarship inbox at Post Office Box 920, St. Paris, Ohio, 43072.

Reach the writer at [email protected]

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