Sidwell to promote program

AGRICULTURE is a popular major at Wilmington College, and a new college trustee from Eastern Ohio and a college official will meet next month to better inform area residents about the program.

Richard Sidwell, former head of school at the Olney Friends School near Barnesville, recently was named to the college’s board of trustees.

Sidwell, who resides at Raven Rocks near Beallsville, and Robert “Chip” Harrod, the college’s vice president for advancement, plan to meet March 5. The two men will discuss some strategies to reach out to landowners in counties along the eastern part of the state as well as to potential students.

In addition, they will visit Olney, and Harrod will have a presentation at the Barnesville Rotary Club meeting.

“We will be promoting the school and agricultural program in this area,” said Sidwell.

He added the agriculture program is the largest in the college in Ohio’s Clinton County, adding that “60 percent of the students in that program are female and 99 percent of the graduates from the agriculture program have jobs waiting for them. It’s a very successful program.”

Noting Wilmington College has about 1,000 acres and an active farm agriculture major program, Sidwell went on to say the college had just created a sustainable agriculture minor involving a smaller scale agricultural enterprise.

In addition to aiming to attract potential students, the two men will discuss ways to reach out to landowners who have received windfall money from gas and oil royalties in this area of the state .

“We think Wilmington would be a good place to donate money for scholarships from this area to benefit students and those who want to go on in agriculture,” Sidwell said, mentioning some high school organizations attuned to that field, such as the Future Farmers of America.

Harrod, an attorney, is not limited in his interests. Among other civic actions, he originated the concept and was founding president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. He also is on the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Sidwell and Margaret Fraser, another Quaker, were named to the college board during the latter part of 2012.

A 1968 graduate of Wilmington College, Sidwell was head of Olney Friends School from 2003-11 after serving as its business manager the previous four years. His wife, Mary, formerly served as Olney’s director of development.

The newly named college trustee, a birthright member of Middleton (Ohio) Friends Meeting, was a work-study participant, residence hall counselor and scholarship recipient while in college in addition to being active in the Young Friends and lettering in soccer all four years.

In 1970, Sidwell co-founded Raven Rocks Inc., a 1,250-acre wilderness preserve and alternative energy demonstration center and continues to serve as its treasurer. The Sidwells’ earth shelter home at Raven Rocks includes a roof-mounted solar panel and a two-story greenhouse/solarium. The north side of the home which emphasizes the use of solar energy is built into the earth.

He was co-owner of the Sidwell Division of Raven Rocks Concrete, Beallsville, for nearly 25 years through 1999.

Founding and current president of the Barnesville Area Rails to Trails Committee, Sidwell is past president and a member of the Barnesville Rotary Club, past member of the board of trustees of the Friends Council on Education, vice president of the Belmont County Community Development Corp., a member of the Barnesville Blue Ribbon Economic Development Committee and a member of the Captina Conservancy Land Trust.

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