COLUMBUS—Bob Peterson, an Ohio state senator and eighth-generation farmer, recently received a 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award from The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agricultural economics in 1977, graduating cum laude.
The Washington Court House native was one of six CFAES alumni to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award during the virtual 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on March 4.
The Distinguished Alumni Award gives public recognition to those who have brought distinction to themselves and to the college through their participation, commitment, and leadership.
“This year marked the 50th anniversary of Ohio State’s CFAES alumni awards,” said Amy Jo Baughman, director of alumni engagement and annual giving. “The CFAES Alumni Society sponsors this annual awards program and the society board selects individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry through their careers.”
As a state senator since 2012, Peterson has worked tirelessly as a member of the governing body of the State of Ohio. He also currently serves as president pro-tempore, meaning that he presides over the legislative chamber in the absence of the normal presiding officer.
He represents the 17th Ohio Senate District, which encompasses Fayette, Clinton, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Pike and Ross counties, as well as portions of Lawrence, Pickaway and Vinton counties.
Peterson’s commitment to agriculture has helped move several pieces of critical legislation that make a difference for family farms, the agriculture industry at large, and for 4-H and FFA youth. Some legislation that he has helped enact include Senate Bill 1, which helps to stem the tide of algal blooms by more effectively monitoring and responding to water quality issues; and Senate Bill 75, which helps to protect Ohio’s farmers from liability concerns in the agritourism industry and eliminates local zoning restrictions on agritourism.
In the legislature, Peterson has served on several committees, including agriculture, environment and natural resources; education; energy and public utilities; finance; government oversight; and as past-chair of the general government finance subcommittee.
Peterson has also served as an Ohio state representative from 2011-2012, and as a Fayette County commissioner from 1996-2010. During his tenure in state government, he has taken international agricultural trade trips to promote Ohio agriculture on a global level, including travel to Turkey, Israel, Switzerland, Russia, China, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Korea.
He was also honored as one of the “Top 20 Emerging Leaders” by GOPAC, a Republican organization focused on training, educating and electing Republican leaders; was awarded “Watch Dog of the Treasury” by United Conservatives of Ohio; and was named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
As president of Ohio Farm Bureau for five years, Peterson felt he “was able to have a positive impact on the industry I love, by inspiring others in agriculture to make a difference, not only in their community, but also at the state, national, and international levels.”
Peterson’s commitment to agriculture also extends to his farm and home community. A life-long farmer, he grew up on the grain and livestock farm he currently operates with his brother in Fayette County. He is also active with his local FFA Alumni and has served as a 4-H advisor and is, “the first person in line when a kid wants to take a ride on a tractor or combine.”
Peterson believes that his most significant contribution has been his efforts to advance the agricultural industry. “Every farmer wants to improve the land and livestock in their care, putting their heart, sweat and effort into doing their very best to assure they can pass it onto the next generation,” he said. “This has been my goal in all facets of my life: as a farmer, leader, legislator, community volunteer, and father. I am especially proud of the work I have done in the Ohio legislature working on common sense agriculture legislation that improved water quality, lowered taxes, and reduced regulatory burdens on farmers and all Ohioans.”
To learn more about Ohio State CFAES and its academic programs, visit cfaes.osu.edu.