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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


AEDE alumni connect AEDE courses to community service and career success

April 21, 2021

Bill Patterson and Lane Osswald both credit some of their current success to the foundational education they received in Agribusiness and Applied Economics. They also believe the close-knit environment of the college allowed them to develop lifelong relationships with fellow students and many others in the agricultural industry.

Today, both men are successful farmers and have served on numerous boards and organizations in their communities, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation where both were recently elected to serve as officers; Patterson as 25th president, and Osswald as treasurer. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is Ohio’s largest and most influential farm and food organization. Knowing first-hand the herculean effort it takes to move food from the field to the table, they are ready to roll up their sleeves and share their knowledge and experience with the Ohio agricultural community.

Bill Patterson graduated in 1993. In addition to learning business operations, dynamics and the ins and outs of trading commodities and stocks, he said that Dr. Carl Zulauf, professor emeritus, taught him to analyze information and data and compile it into digestible content.

Dr. Zulauf remembers Patterson as a student with a deep interest in agricultural policy and curiosity on how to manage a farm. He was also a student who asked a lot of questions in and out of the classroom.

“He particularly asked about how economics could contribute to the understanding of current events and agricultural conditions,” said Zulauf.

In his role as president, Patterson sees an opportunity to continue to build relationships with Ohio communities. “My education taught me how to find common ground and get along with people.”

Lane Osswald graduated in 1997 and now farms corn, soybeans, wheat and vegetables with his family. He is also a licensed commercial pesticide applicator and an experienced crop advisor for many local clients. Over the years he has integrated a lot of his education of business principles and management into his role as employee, employer and farmer.

After working for other operations, Osswald returned to his family farm and said that managing family members has proven to be especially tricky at times.

He credits professor emeritus Dr. Bernie Erven with teaching him how to manage human capital extremely useful.

“Learning how to manage people and how to treat them well to build loyalty has benefited me throughout my farming career,” said Osswald.

Osswald also found the grain marketing courses to be very useful as he learned where to be in the grain market and how to view the markets overall. He said that even though the markets have changed with technology, the overall management ideas are the same.

“I gained more confidence in the market and still look for ways to improve my marketing positions,” said Osswald.

Patterson knew when he came back to the farm after college, he would serve the agricultural industry and community in some way. Throughout the years and while serving on county farm bureau, Farm Credit, and school and community boards, he has also built relationships with many community members and hopes to expand to building relationships with those living on and off the farm.

He believes his role as Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president will give him the opportunity to expand his reach and more widely share important information and resources offered by the Ohio Farm Bureau.

“We have a population of people trying to get information that we have collected and we are the avenue to connect them with it,” said Patterson.