OWU Students Visit Environmentally Friendly Farms

Trip provides first-hand lesson in rural environmental economics

OWU Trustee James Pry II (front left in red hat) gave economics students a tour of his tree farm in Crawford County, Ohio, during a trip to study rural environmental economics. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Meyer)

Seventeen Ohio Wesleyan University economics students and assistant professor of economics Andrew Meyer enhanced their understanding of rural environmental economics with a recent road trip.

The group included many students in Meyer’s environmental and resource economics class, which examines how to apply economic tools to analyze origins, consequences, and policy implications of environmental and natural resource problems. The group traveled about an hour north of campus to Crawford County to tour two environmentally-friendly farm operations in early December.

Ohio Wesleyan Trustee James Pry II, a 1967 OWU graduate, invited the group to tour his tree farm, located in a restored forest along the Sandusky River. As a certified tree farm, it can be used for watershed protection, recreation, and as a wildlife habitat. Pry toured the woods with the group and explained how tree farms work in the lumber industry.

“As a renewable resource, forests can simultaneously provide economic and environmental benefits,” Meyer says. “Forests are essential for preventing erosion, protecting ground and surface waters, and providing animal habitat. Programs like the USDA Conservation Reserve can help provide an incentive for landowners to protect forests for environmental benefits.”

The group also toured Hord Livestock Company, a family-run swine and grain operation that seeks to be at the forefront of animal and food safety. Members of the Hord management team discussed the increasing importance of technology in agriculture, as well as sustainable technology efforts.

Hord is using GPS-guided machinery to apply fertilizers only where needed to reduce the runoff that can contaminate streams and rivers. And the company recently installed a solar-energy system on the roof of one of its barns.

“It was a chilly December day with snow on the ground, but it was refreshing for all of us to get outdoors and see some of the things that we talk about in class from a practical standpoint,” Meyer adds. “It’s amazing how many environmental issues can be seen right up the road from OWU in Crawford County. This trip reinforced many of our class concepts.”

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