By Bruce Stambaugh
Jim Croskey, of rural Holmesville, Ohio is an uncomplicated man. But don’t let his down home folksiness fool you.
For most of his adult life, Croskey has put his inner spirit into action for the good of others. His productive community interactions reflect the spectrum of his interests and priorities.
His philosophy for civic duty is as straightforward as the man himself.
“If you’re not involved,” Croskey said plainly, “you can’t complain.”
He should know. Croskey has been involved in a web of activities that crisscross his most treasured values. Family, farming, church and the environment are all dear to his heart.
After graduating from West Holmes High School in 1980, Croskey said he continued his education in the school of hard knocks. In other words, he worked in the oilfields for four years.
That experience got him both thinking and looking into what he really wanted to do. He married Shirley Schlegel in 1984, and with a common interest in antiques, Croskey began an antique refinishing business.
A year later, he started working for his father-in-law, Roy Schlegel, on DalRoy Farms. He must have found his niche, because Croskey is in his 25th year of farming with the Schlegel’s. Croskey is the farm manager of the 900-acre agricultural business.
“I worked on farms in the summer during high school,” Croskey said. “I saw this as a good opportunity to allow me to get into farming.”
His job is to make sure the day-to-day farm operations happen. Croskey said they focus on raising corn, soybeans and hay, and that is his job to look for the best prices on fertilizers and sprays. He said they no-till farm, meaning they do not plow the cropland.
With conservation ever on his mind, Croskey said they have used rye as a cover crop for harvested cornfields. In the spring, the rye is cut for fodder for their livestock.
Croskey said is it critical for him to stay abreast of the latest innovations by attending workshops and seminars.
Croskey incorporates his agricultural interest into community service by sitting on the Holmes Soil and Water board. He has done so for 10 years.
“I see that service as helping farmers and helping the environment,” Croskey said.
Long prior to his service on Soil and Water, Croskey and his wife served as 4-H advisors for two different clubs for a total of 19 years.
“When we started,” Croskey said, “4-H involved five to six families in the clubs. Now it has grown far beyond that status.” Croskey also served on the county 4-H committee for several years.
Before his 4-H service, Croskey was on the Holmes County Farm Bureau for eight years, including three as president.
“That’s what really got me started on the community service,” he said. “At the time, I was the youngest Farm Bureau president ever.”
Croskey said that changed this year when his son, Jimmy, became the organization’s president at age 25. “So the tradition continues,” he said with a wink.
“I haven’t had very much recliner time,” he chuckled. Indeed he hasn’t. Croskey has also been elected Prairie Township Trustee for three terms.
Croskey has also been very active in the church he attends, Fredericksburg Presbyterian. He served eight years as an elder, a trustee, and is currently chairperson of the outreach committee.
That position lead to another, the Fredericksburg Outreach Committee, which established the Chain Reaction Bicycle Shop.
With the Holmes County Trail ending in Fredericksburg, the three local churches thought it a good idea to offer something practical for local children to safely enjoy the benefits of the trail, according to Croskey. The group sponsors bike trips.
“People come to ride that may not come to church,” Croskey said. “We might as well help them, too.” The shop is now closed for the season.
“Church prepares you for how you go out into the world,” Croskey said. “I simply try to be an example.”
Just in case he is not involved enough, Croskey also serves on the board of the Loudonville Farmer’s Equity, which has 250 members.
After all these years, the Croskey’s still enjoy antiques. The difference is they have furnished their farm home with them, rather than refinish them for others.
With all that he does for the community, Croskey probably wouldn’t have the time anyhow.