In 1935, the number of farms in the United States peaked at 7 million, according to the USDA. Today, there are only 2 million farms left in operation. Ohio claims about 77,000 of those, ranging from small hobby farms to large, family-run operations.
Keith Klopfenstein of Scott, Ohio, is more than just a statistic. Proudly farming 1,200 acres of corn, wheat, and beans, he was voted the PPEC 2020 Farm Famous winner out of a lineup of more than a dozen member-submitted local farmers. Keith won a $100 bill credit, a plaque, and the satisfaction of knowing his community stands firmly behind him and all he does.
“Farming is what I do for a living, and it keeps me grounded… but I’ve learned you’re not really in control of much,” Klopfenstein said. “What do you have is your community. They are an extension of family. If you have trouble, people step up to help you out and vice versa.”
Klopfenstein and his wife Joanne are going on 45 years strong in their quaint country home, where a 4-H booth and a green John Deere sit outside next to the barn and grain bins. Klopfenstein is used to small-town living, as his high school class of 1971 had just 39 graduates.
A tragic accident changed his life though, when his daughter died in a car accident at age 19. Wanting to give back, Klopfenstein became a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) for the Scott and Grover Hill Fire Departments.
“Tragedy happens. You have to be ready,” Klopfenstein said. “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. It feels good to help people out, especially when every once in awhile someone says thank you.”
Above all, Klopfenstein wants to make sure this story puts out an important plea: Our Grover Hill Fire Department really needs EMT volunteers, Klopfenstein said.
“If my pager goes off right now, I’m sure I’m the only one in this area to help. We need more people to respond and be able to get to the scene faster. It means more lives we could save.”
If you or someone you know might be interested in serving as a Grover Hill Volunteer firefighter or EMT, contact Fire Chief Dave Volk at 419-771-9493.
Faith is crucial to Klopfenstein. He attends the Apostolic Christian Church in Latty, where he admits he’s been accused of chit-chatting so long that he has to lock up after church. But above all else, he claims the gem of his life as his wife.
“Behind every good man is a good woman,” Klopfenstein said. “I don’t know how I won this contest, but I know she has always been here to support me.”
Klopfenstein hopes the next generation sees his efforts not as success in the amount of work done but rather as an act of service to God.
“We can’t take anything with us when we go. Serve the Lord; everything else is just living.”