The SNAP-Ed program, which targets SNAP-eligible recipients, presented 43 direct programs reaching 196 adult participants. In these programs, participants were encouraged to make healthy food choices, practice food safety techniques, and manage their food budgets. There was a 30 percent increase in the amount of participants that now buy healthier food. We reached 3,104 participants through indirect programming. This year, Ashtabula County added youth programs at Conneaut Gateway Elementary School. We reached 2,936 youth through 158 youth programs and the summer foods program. We had a 10 percent increase in youth that now eat foods from different food groups. Our county also added a .50 FTE SNAP-Ed program assistant.
In 2016, all 154 4-H volunteers, 33 Master Gardener Volunteers, and 35 camp counselors were trained in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect and creating positive welcoming safe environments by county staff. Participants were familiarized with OSU’s protection of Minors Policy, learned definitions and indicators of abuse and neglect, and learned reporting procedures. Following training, 100 percent of the participants felt an increase in the comfort of recognizing and reporting and providing a safe community for youth.
OSU Extension’s Real Money. Real World. program helped to give middle and high school students an understanding of how income and life choices can affect their future income. Participants learned how much to expect to pay for housing, transportation, and childcare, and how to balance their “wants” and “needs” with the income they receive from their future employment. This hands-on program was offered to 1,200 eighth graders in seven public schools and to 270 members of the junior class at Ashtabula County Career and Technical Center. Teachers commented how this program helped to spark student conversations about money usage, created awareness for them on what their parents spend on living expenses, and what they can do today to improve their income in the future.
In 2016, 180 youth (144 campers, 36 youth counselors) participated in OSU Extension – Ashtabula County’s camping program. This camping program consists of two main functions: #1: camp counselor training program and #2: 4-H camp week. In all, 36 teenagers participated in the intensive camp counselor training program and then served as camp counselors during Ashtabula County’s 4-H camp week held from June 26 to July 2 at 4-H Camp Whitewood in Windsor, Ohio. Counselors reported that being a camp counselor has positively impacted them, helped them gain life skills, and made a positive impact in other aspects of their lives. Some of the comments made were about skills they have gained such as confidence, responsibility, time management, people skills, patience, and compassion.
Ashtabula County’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program kept in full swing with activities in all seven schools. Job skills were taught through robotics, weather, rocketry, vermicomposting, and animal husbandry, More than 800 students participated in these programs. A teacher whose class participated in the Robotics program stated, “It is wonderful that as students go through this program that I can reference items to what we have done in the classroom and make the connection from the book to actual applications.”
In 2016, the Ashtabula County 4-H Youth Development program had 46 chartered 4-H clubs with 905 enrolled youth (155 Cloverbuds) guided by 154 adult volunteers. These youth successfully participated in 1,142 projects across the 4-H program. Additionally, 11 new volunteers were screened and trained to work with the Ashtabula County 4-H program. 95 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed the information presented will help them in working as a 4-H volunteer. Committed to personal development and growth Ashtabula County 4-H volunteers dedicated more than 500 hours to extended learning through participation in county, regional, and state level adult learning activities and development trainings.
Guided by two teachers and county 4-H volunteers, with the support of teen leaders and adult volunteers, 45 youth ages five to seven attended 4-H Cloverbud fun days held in early July. STEM focused learning activities guided this three-day program focused on welcoming youth to 4-H and teaching social, life, and community skills.
What makes your garden grow? Master Gardener Volunteers, trained by OSU Extension, shared research-based information with gardeners through workshops, community gardens, and one-on-one consultations. In total, the 33 Master Gardener Volunteers volunteered 2,737 hours (value of $58,736), reaching more than 11,100 residents.
With support from the entire Ashtabula County community through sponsorships, Ashtabula County Farm Bureau and OSU Extension held another successful Ag Day. Nearly 1,200 members of the class of 2027 descended on the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds on May 13, 2016 to explore the many different aspects of agriculture. During Ag Day, 1,185 students traveled around the fairgrounds to 12 interactive stations, where they were able to see, touch, and smell agriculture. Every classroom was provided with a tour guide to help them on their adventure throughout the day. Every station was taught by a volunteer presenter who shared education on the diversity of agriculture in Ashtabula County. More than 325 volunteers were on hand for the day, making the day a success.
This year, 58 Ashtabula County farmers who hold a private pesticide applicator license attended a recertification session; 100 percent of the attendees reported they had improved practices to protect the environment, have improved pesticide handling practices, and were better informed about compliance with pesticide and environmental regulations.
Environmental stewardship is important to Ashtabula County farmers. Mandated by new legislation, 41 producers attended to receive their fertilizer certification. Education topics included soil sampling, phosphorous and nitrogen management, crop fertility, lime recommendations, and economics of fertilizer application. Almost all strongly agreed the training increased their knowledge of phosphorus and nitrogen management. More than 75 percent of the participants agreed they would change their nutrient management practices. All farmers applying fertilizer to 50 or more acres are mandated to complete their initial certification by September, 2017.
OSU Extension helped begin the Northeast Ohio Phosphorus Task Force in 2016. The committee was formed to take a proactive approach to enhance water quality protection and monitoring in the Eastern Lake Erie Basin. Seventeen farmers conducted weather and soil monitoring from January through the end of March. This data is helping to examine the potential impact the Senate Bill 1 legislation would have in Northeast Ohio if it would be implemented statewide in the future.
OSU Extension conducted on-farm research in corn, soybean, and miscanthus production to benefit Ashtabula County farmers. For the sixth year, OSU Extension – Ashtabula County was part of a statewide monitoring program for the Western Bean Cutworm in corn fields. Three trap locations were placed in strategic locations with 743 adults moths detected during the weekly summer checks. Data was collected at two local farms for inclusion in a statewide soybean pollinator study and a miscanthus research plot was maintained at the OARDC Ashtabula Research Station in Kingsville.