From family dairy to the big stage: Bolin-Ervin wins at the Big E – Ohio Ag Net

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

Growing up on a farm of any kind is bound to teach you valuable lessons and present experiences that stick with you for the rest of your life. For Abbi Bolin-Ervin, her upbringing has carried her far into her FFA career and contributed greatly to her future career plans.

Located in Athens, Ohio, Ervin’s Dairy Farm is a multi-generation family farm that has been in operation for over 100 years.

My great grandparents started farming in 1917 and then my grandparents took over after them. Once my grandparents retired, my dad and his two brothers, Ronnie and Scotty took over the farm so it’s safe to say it’s always been a family thing,” Bolin-Ervin said.

It didn’t take long for Bolin-Ervin to follow in the footsteps of the family members that came before her. As she became more involved on the farm, her passion for agriculture only grew stronger.

“When I was growing up I always wanted to ride in the tractor with my dad or see how the corn was doing or even just watch as they were milking the cows,” Bolin-Ervin said. “As I grew older I began helping more and more and as my interest grew I decided to join 4-H.”

Once she reached the age of nine, Bolin-Ervin began showing many of the farm’s heifers at the county fair. Although intimidated at first, she stuck with it, ultimately leading her to show at the state level—a pivotal moment in her career as showman.

Upon entering high school, Bolin-Ervin quickly became involved with the Athens FFA chapter and her upbringing naturally led her to participate in the Dairy Handlers career development event. After placing near the top at the state level last spring, Bolin-Ervin earned the opportunity to represent Ohio at The Big E.

According to the Eastern States Exposition, “The Big E is America’s Premier Exposition and the world’s only multi-state fair, representing all six New England States, with entertainment, unique foods, agricultural events and more.”

In addition to livestock shows and other agricultural showcases, the Big E hosts multiple FFA competitions where the top members from the eastern states have the opportunity to compete against each other in their respective competitions.

Bolin-Ervin represented Ohio in the Dairy Handlers competition and placed first overall—an accomplishment she says wouldn’t have been possible without her upbringing on the farm and the family members who helped her grow into the young agriculturalist that she is today.

“The farm is just one big family and each person has contributed to my skills and successes in some way. I’m thankful for the countless lessons my family has taught me,” Bolin-Ervin said.

The impact of growing up on a farm goes far beyond the show ring for Bolin-Ervin. Her experiences have led her to pursue a career path that combines her passion for agriculture with the desire to educate others about the industry.

“My long-term goal is to attend The Ohio State University and become an Agriscience Education teacher,” Bolin-Ervin said. “I want to share my knowledge with people and show them all of the opportunities within agriculture.”

As Bolin-Ervin prepares to graduate and enter the next chapter of her life, she says she will continue to recognize her family’s farm as an instrumental part in the development of who she is today and the person she will become into the future.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t grow up on the farm. If I didn’t get the experience of watching a calf being born or helping my uncle’s feed or holding a flashlight for them as they worked on equipment. It’s those experiences that mean the world to me now,” Bolin-Ervin said.

In addition to Bolin-Ervin, several other Ohio FFA members experienced success at The Big E. Ohio FFA was well represented in a multitude of career development events with individuals and teams placing in the following categories:

Agricultural Technology & Mechanical Systems – Arcanum MVCTC FFA

Employment Skills – River Valley FFA

Creed Speaking – Global Impact FFA

Food Science & Technology – Felicity-Franklin FFA

Dairy Cattle Handlers – Athens FFA & Fairlawn FFA

Floriculture – Miami Trace Great Oaks FFA

Forestry – East Knox FFA

Livestock Evaluation – Botkins FFA

Nursery/Landscape – Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA

Extemporaneous Public Speaking – Felicity-Franklin FFA

Poultry Evaluation – Indian Lake FFA

Milk Quality & Products – Urbana FFA.

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