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 website.
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 world.
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
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