CFAES Give Today

Department of Animal Sciences


Austin Ayars Memorial Scholarship Launched

June 2, 2017

Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

The Buckeye Dairy Club, in conjunction with John and Bonnie Ayars, launched the Austin Ayars Memorial Scholarship at the Buckeye Dairy Club’s annual awards reception banquet held at Der Dutchman in Plain City on April 22.

About Austin Ayars

Dr. Austin T. Ayars grew up on a notable, purebred dairy farm in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Land of Living Farm Guernsey and New View Swiss has been a premier site for dairy judging teams from across the United States to visit and evaluate high quality dairy cattle. During his youth, Austin was very involved in the family’s farm and in showing dairy cattle at local, state, regional, and national shows, as well as an active participant in junior breed association activities at all levels. Recognitions included Salutatorian of his class, All American Farm Degree, 4-H Boy of the Year, and he was a member of the 1999 national winning 4-H dairy judging team. In June of 2003, he graduated Cum Laude from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences. While at OSU as an undergraduate student, he was an avid learner and demonstrated his leadership ability in many extracurricular programs. He was a member of the College Student Council for four years and served as President during in senior year, as well as being named a top 20 senior in the college. He was also a member of Buckeye Dairy Club and Collegiate 4-H and served as a math and chemistry tutor while residing in Norton/Scott.

Austin received the Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State in June 2007. Receiving this degree had been his lifelong dream! Upon graduation with his DVM degree, he married and moved to Arizona to practice in a group specializing in dairy. He later established his own mobile veterinary clinic, received several veterinary grants, and even coached rugby at a local school. Two of his three children were born while he practiced in Arizona.

In March of 2015, Austin and his family moved back to Ohio to begin the process of building a large commercial dairy on the family farm. However on June 7, he died in a tragic farming accident on the family’s farm at the age of 34. This scholarship has been created in his honor to recognize his passion for learning and teaching, for his determination to succeed, his work ethic balanced with his love for his wife and children, and his absolute joy of life!

The Scholarship

The scholarship will be $5,000 awarded annually to an undergraduate student enrolled at The Ohio State University in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences with at least two semesters remaining prior to graduation. The student must be an active member of the Buckeye Dairy Club for at least one year and demonstrate an active interest in dairy, whether that be demonstrated by involvement with dairy cattle in 4-H and/or FFA, dairy judging, dairy challenge, dairy internships, etc. They must have a passion for a career in the dairy industry, demonstration of work ethic, and evidence of leadership potential.

The first recipient of the scholarship selected for 2017 is Joel Sonnenberg of Malinta, OH who just finished his junior year at Ohio State with a major in Agribusiness and Applied Economics and a minor in Production Agriculture. Some of his accomplishments include: American Farmer FFA Degree, member of OSU Dairy Judging Team, President and Vice-President of Delta Theta Sigma, member of Alpha Zeta Partners which included a study abroad to Brazil, two years as treasurer of the Buckeye Dairy Club, peer mentor for the College, and just completed the European Dairy Study Abroad to the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.

Joel Sonnenberg with Bonnie Ayars