Paul Pullins was named the 2019 Farmer of the Year at the Urbana Rotary Club’s Rural Urban Night on Monday at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. As he called out the six Pullins children, their spouses and 17 grandchildren, along with one of Pullins’s sisters and his parents, to join Pullins and his wife, Cathy, at the front of the room, emcee Roger Wilson said that he believed this was the largest family gathering at a Farmer of the Year presentation, and thus was calling the event the Party for the Prolific Pullins People.
“The Farmer of the Year was born and raised in Champaign County,” said Wilson. “He and his wife own about 315 acres, but between the various family members they farm approximately 1,500 acres. The family heritage is definitely farming. The honoree has also become a leader in agricultural support profession.”
“Last year we worked in 14 counties, and to see the comradeship and the help the individual farmers give each other in this county is above and beyond what you see in some of the other counties,” said Pullins. “This county is right on the top of the line for the new ways of farming, the methods. This county is about the best one you can be in. So, thanks everyone.”
Wilson began his introduction by listing items of trivia from the year 1950, when Pullins was born. He further mentioned that Pullins was the eldest of seven children, three brothers and three sisters, all of whom went to the Ohio State University. There he met his wife while traveling back and forth to attend OSU part time, but did not graduate. His wife graduated with a bachelor’s degree and was a four-year participant in women’s basketball and track and field and a one-year participant in field hockey.
She and daughter Paulette assist the Pullins Drainage business in books and administration. The business manages 11 full-time employees and concentrate their business in the six-county area of Champaign, Logan, Clark, Green and Hardin counties, but have gone as far as Licking County to perform drainage work. The daily operations of the business are now primarily under the leadership of sons Samuel and John.
“David Pullins founded the Pullins Drainage business in 1958,” said Wilson. “His vision was to enable landowners to conserve, protect and enhance soil, water and land resources. Conservation of soil and water resources is important for the sustainability of agriculture and the environment, and at the same time enhancing the profitability of the farming operations. David retired at age 70, and the leadership of what is now Pullins Drainage and Excavating passed to Paul.
“Under Paul’s leadership the business went from manually setting targets and carrying tile, to using the big drainage pipes with on-board installation of tiling using GPS,” he continued. “Any drainage contractor may look in admiration at the 90-inch cutting depth of the machine that they have and the 540-horsepower of the 550 broad drainage plow, but what catches people’s eyes is the pink paint job of that machine. It was clad with a pink ribbon on the Pullins Drainage Company logo when it was made in the Braun Production line in Canada in 2011. The choice to color it pink was because a dear Pullins family friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Braun Manufacturing exclusively reserves the color pink for machines ordered by the Pullins family in order to raise breast cancer awareness.”
The Pullins family has been involved in the statewide organization known as the Land Improvement Contractors Association. Field Days at the Farm Science Review are sponsored by that association, and Wilson said that without the Pullins family those events would not happen. Pullins was the association president in 2002, and his son, Samuel, became at the time the youngest president in the organization’s history in 2013.
Pullins was named the Ohio improvement contractor of the year in 2016. He now serves as statewide consultant for Precision Pipeline Company, supervising repair of drainage tiles damaged during pipeline construction.
He is also an eight-year Adams Township trustee and served eight years with Ohio National Guard.
Acre of Corn
Mike Pullins, chair of Acre of Corn Committee, announced the members of the 2018 Acre of Corn Club. Twenty-five families were recognized for each donating profits from one acre of their farm’s corn toward stopping polio.
“In 2010 the Urbana Rotary began the Acre of Corn Club with all proceeds going to Polio Plus,” he said. “In nine years, we have raised over $160,000, enough dollars to inoculate over 300,000 children. That brings us up to 2018. There were just 27 cases of polio in just two countries. The progress we’ve made in 30 years. In 2019 thus far there have only been three cases worldwide and in just two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We hope 2019 could be the end of active polio cases here in the world.”
He said that the Urbana Rotary Club has again been recognized by Rotary International for donations to end polio. Since 1988 the international foundation has raised $1.3 billion to eradicate polio and has leveraged that with $10 billion additional dollars from government and industry to inoculate two billion children around the world.
Rotary Club President Brad Millice recognized that students from FFA programs in all five county schools were present at the banquet, which was prepared by In Good Taste Catering.
“This is a testament to strong leadership in these programs. This is a testament to the importance of agriculture in our community, and the Rotary Club appreciates that these young people would take time out of their evening to come join us,” he said.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.