Arnold Ellison spent 40 years teaching agricultural education for Hauser.
But it was Ellison’s fascination with photography that got him to Thursday’s Community Dinner to accept the Rural Service Award.
“I told him he was going to take pictures of the winners,” said Bartholomew County Council President Bill Lentz, when presenting Ellison with the award, given since 1954.
Ellison, who was Lentz’s high school teacher in the 1970s, brought a camera bag to the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgounds Thursday and ended up on the other side of the lens, holding a plaque for photo ops.
“This is quite the surprise,” Ellison said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
The Community Dinner, a program of the Bartholomew County Farm Bureau and the Bartholomew County REMC with volunteers from other area organizations, provided the public an opportunity to celebrate achievements in agriculture and energy conservation.
About 200 people attended.
Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech students, along with teachers Cinde Wirth and Gail Nowels, were recognized with the Energy Conservation Award.
They built and donated a windmill in the spring.
“We’re always trying to look for projects that will reach out into the community,” said Mason Nowels, now a senior at the school.
“So we came up with the idea of a windmill and thought what better than a windmill.”
The dinner included an auction for sponsored days and streets at the fairgrounds for the 2012 4-H Fair.
Among the big bidders was Mark Bense, a Hope farmer, who volunteers with the Bartholomew County Young Farmers, a group under the direction of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Bense bid $1,300 to label the Wednesday of fair week, “Bartholomew County Young Farmers Day,” and bid $600 to name a street after the group.
Bense said the money came from the Bartholomew County Young Farmers’ fund. The group has one big fundraiser a year: ice cream sales at the fair.
“It’s important to give back to the community because it goes back to 4-H,” Bense said. “I was involved in 4-H for 10 years.”
Bense grew up on his family farm in Hope.
Ellison grew up on his family farm in Cass County before accepting a Hauser teaching position straight out of Purdue University.
He said he would have attended the dinner, even if not tricked into attending.
But Thursday’s award wasn’t the real reward. His career gave him enough of that.
Ellison continues to volunteer for the FFA.
“I think the most rewarding part is that you have so many great kids that you just constantly get to work with,” Ellison said.
“That’s what made going to work every day.”
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