In 2016, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) reached 236 adult and 2,759 youth participants in 236 direct education classes. SNAP-Ed partnered with the following agencies during the past year: Ashland Head Start, Ashland Pregnancy Center, Ashland Public Library, Ashland YMCA, Dale Roy, Family and Children’s First Council, Good Shepherd Villas, Lifeworx, Loudonville Head Start, Loudonville Public Library, Mill Run Place, Sullivan Head Start, and The Learning Center. The majority of these sites have been participating in biweekly classes, and some of them have been meeting weekly. The youth participants learned a lot about the five food groups that are represented in the MyPlate model, the importance of physical activity, healthy snacking and beverage choices, and proper handwashing skills. The adult and senior participants engaged in great conversation while learning about MyPlate, how to make healthy choices on a limited budget, how to increase physical activity, and the importance of food safety. When surveyed, the adult and senior participants indicated an increase in their whole grain consumption after taking part in the classes. There was also a growth of participants who are no longer or are now rarely worrying that their food will run out. Participants are also more confident in using basic cooking skills and in making at least one positive change in their household as a result of their participation in the program. Here are some success stories:
- Residents at Good Shepherd Villas are now preparing healthier dishes for their potluck luncheons using the recipes that were prepared in class.
- A parent from Dale Roy Preschool shared with her son’s teacher at parent teacher conferences that she has been using the “go food” and “whoa food” supplemental education sheets that were sent home to help her son eat healthier foods.
- Some participants from Lifeworx started participating in a water aerobics class at the Ashland YMCA to promote a healthy lifestyle.
- A father who brought his three sons to the Summer Food Service Program expressed that since his boys have been participating in the program, they have been talking about the food groups when they are eating. It sparked so much more meal time conversation among the whole family. The boys are now more interested in and more aware of what they are eating.
- A grandmother who brought her grandchildren to the Summer Food Service Program shared that she brings her grandchildren to the site for the nutrition games and learning activities that SNAP-Ed provided. She said that her grandchildren have been telling her when she is not eating healthy foods, they started asking for more healthy snacks, and have become more active while at her house since taking part in the program activities.
- Staff at Sullivan Head Start have begun including the snack recipes the children prepared during the SNAP-Ed program in their monthly parent newsletter. They have also been extending the content of our lessons into their classrooms and want to begin updating their visual images of nutrition and physical activity around their center.
A total of 23 junior fair Board members provided leadership for a successful 2016 Ashland County junior fair. During the year, members spent time learning how to work better as a team, how to speak in front of groups, how to organize events and proper ways of interacting with the public when answering questions or handling complaints. Board members evaluated their training and comments included, “Meeting in sub-committees taught me how to work as a team (member) and to follow through for my team,” and, “I was not very comfortable speaking up at first, but it got easier the more I did it.”
In July, 104 youth attended 4-H junior camp, a five-day, four-night event. Teens were responsible for planning and conducting the camp under the guidance of 10 adult staff members. In all, 19 youth counselors received a minimum of 24 hours of training and, in turn, donated more than 150 hours of their time to the younger members. Overall, 95 percent of the counselors said they learned how to better take care of emergencies at camp and how to recognize and understand bullying, and 100 percent could name at least two ways to successfully handle bullying at camp.
In all, 184 adult volunteers provided leadership to 35 4-H community clubs and 11 4-H subject matter committees, serving more than 720 traditional club members this past year. According to “The Independent Sector Report,” the value these volunteers brought to Ashland County was more than $433,500. In all, 22 new volunteers were recruited, and 100 percent of all volunteers attended a two-hour training which included instruction on Recognition and Prevention of Child Abuse and Child Neglect to remain certified.
With the growing interest in shooting sports, there is also a growing need for educational programming to support safe and careful use of equipment. Eleven adult volunteers and two junior leaders retained their state certification in seven shooting sports disciplines. A county-wide club met weekly from January through April to provide youth with the opportunity to learn shooting sports in a safe and educational manner. More than 70 members took part in this program, and most of them plan to enroll in additional shooting sports opportunities in 2017. Currently, we have recruited five new volunteers who will be attending certification training in the near future.
More than 50 first-time juvenile traffic offenders attended a 4-H CARTEENS program in 2016. The sessions are led by trained teen and adult instructors, state troopers, and guest speakers including EMTs and insurance agents. Teen participant comments included, “The videos definitely made me think… a lot,” and, “The program showed me the real-life consequences.”
School enrichment experiences were presented to youth in six schools. Robotics was presented to five classrooms (113 youth); Rockets Away! was presented to four classrooms (99 youth); Experiments with Science was presented to one classroom (12 youth); Basic Cooking Skills was presented to one special needs classroom (10 youth); and Breads of the Harvest was presented to 11 classrooms (231 youth). Each of the classes is designed to create a love of learning and particularly, interest in science careers.
Ashland County offered three adult quality assurance (QA) certification training opportunities for county 4-H volunteers. Quality assurance trainings teach the skills needed to provide mandatory education for youth exhibiting market livestock at the county or state fair. Once the volunteer completed the two-hour training, he or she could then teach the mandatory QA curriculum to club members. The QA program educated youth on the humane care and handling of livestock, appropriate recordkeeping practices, and proper production methods. The 39 adults certified enabled almost 500 youth who attended these trainings to be able to show their market animal at the county fair. All youth took part in at least two hands-on learning experiences and studied three Good Production Practices in-depth. The Senior Fair Board reported 100 percent compliance with QA attendance at the county fair.
Tractor Safety Certification training was offered for youth who are 14 and 15 years old to teach safe practices and procedures. Successful completion of this course enables youth to use tractor equipment while working for area farmers. Both participants this year passed their written and driving tests and obtained their certification.
Honey bee populations have been declining, causing a critical problem for fruit and vegetable growers, grain farmers, and others. To help address this need, two adults and three youth attended the statewide “Honey Bee Challenge” training so they could offer the program to 4-H members throughout the summer. During the challenge, which introduces students to current issues, the students learned about the behavior of honey bees and their role in pollinating crops. Working in teams they built “bee bots” from the head of a toothbrush, a small vibrating motor, a watch battery, a bee sticker and a piece of tape. Participants used straws, paper cups and other tools to guide the bee bots around to different crops depicted on the Honey Bee Challenge mat. The program was offered in conjunction with a STEM family fun day where families learned about bees, planted flowers and built bluebird houses. The program was also done for 4-H campers at junior camp. More than 100 were in attendance.