Wooster, Ohio, December 11, 2004:Snowflakes
drifted across the rhododendrons lining the walkway as throngs
of colleagues and friends filtered in to the experiment station
where Ben Stinner worked for 22 years. Benjamin R. Stinner,
W.K. Kellogg Foundation-endowed chair in ecological management
at Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and
Environmental Sciences, died Nov. 23, 2004, in an automobile
accident in Wooster, Ohio. He was just 50 years old.
here to view the announcement of Ben Stinner's
memorial service on the Ohio State University Extension
To make a contribution, or to learn more about
the Ben Stinner Endowment for Healthy Agroecosystems
and Sustainable Communities, contact The Ohio
State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and
Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster,
Ohio, 44691; tel. 330-287-1321.
Ben was a professor of entomology at the Ohio Agricultural
Research and Development Center (OARDC) and an international
leader in agroecology and sustainable agriculture. He had
a bachelor's degree in biology from Susquehanna University,
a master's degree in biology with an emphasis on insect ecology
from Bucknell University, and a doctoral degree in entomology
and ecology from the University of Georgia. He was a member
of Ohio State University Extension's Sustainable Agriculture
Team and a co-organizer of and participant in Extension's
On-Farm Research Program. Along with his wife, Deborah, also
an agroecologist and the leader of OARDC's Organic Food and
Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program, Ben worked
on the ecology and economics of whole-farm systems, arthropod
ecology, nutrient cycling, the role of organic matter in soil
fertility, and the ecology of Amish farming. Many of us knew
Ben through his work in the OARDC's Agroecosystems Management
Program (AMP), an interdisciplinary project that brought together
scientists and non-university stakeholders to develop practical
management solutions for family farms.
At the memorial service we learned that Ben came from humble
coal-mining territory near Lykens, Pennsylvania, in the Appalachian
range. As a boy, he absorbed lessons in art, music and organic
gardening from the women of his extended family. Those early
experiences—that connection with the land—helped
shape his life and encouraged him to pursue sustainable agriculture
and agroecology as a career and avocation. His daughter, Kristina,
described the fun-loving, quirky side of Ben that so many
knew and loved. His son, Jed, who is studying environmental
sciences, appeared alongside his father in many of the slides
that were shown, the two together outdoors, enjoying the natural
Friend after friend—from deans of agriculture to farmers—shared
stories of Ben, his love for “digging in the dirt”
and his passion for linking science with practical application.
Eulogy after eulogy portrayed Ben as a dreamer and a weaver—a
person who combined the creativity to imagine new and better
ways of doing things with the skill to bring together the
often disparate worlds of academics, civil servants, and farmers.
Overall, the service was a celebration of Ben's life—a
life full of love for his family, for nature and for his work.
“He is here,” Deb said. “He will continue
to live through our work.” Deb asked the mournful gathering
to continue Ben’s dream of a sustainable future for
family farms across the nation. Already, just a few weeks
since Ben’s untimely death, a Ben Stinner Endowment
has been established and funds have been received to help
perpetuate this vision.
Ben’s ashes will be scattered in Pennsylvania, where
the hills and creeks and grouse that nurtured his early life
will welcome him home. Ben will be remembered for his visionary
leadership toward a new and much brighter future for agriculture
in Ohio. He was a brilliant thinker, an inspiring mentor,
a great friend, a devoted husband and father. Thank you, Ben.
May you rest in peace.
ISU Associate Professor,
Horticulture and Agronomy
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