B-Fit was a project spearheaded by the Brown County 4-H Junior Leaders. This event was a mile walk every morning of the Brown County fair and youth mindfulness check-ins. The purpose was to get Brown County residents moving and thinking about their health and wellness. Throughout the week, 45 individuals walked at least one day and 73 youth participated in at least one day of the mindfulness check-ins. One walker reported she has continued to walk a mile every morning and has seen a decrease in blood pressure.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) is a USDA grant-funded nutrition education and obesity prevention program serving low-income adults and youth in Ohio. Its goal is to increase the likelihood that families and individuals who receive food assistance benefits will make healthy food choices and choose more active lifestyles. With the United States ranking 42nd worldwide in life span, it’s apparent that changes in our behaviors and environments are needed now more than ever. In collaboration with several local agencies and public school systems in Brown County, SNAP-Ed programs are being offered with key topics addressing MyPlate, vegetables and fruits, dairy, whole grains, protein foods and food shopping. These programs challenge participants to take the knowledge gained in class and put it to use in their home lives. Success stories show these programs are making a difference in Brown County. One adult program participant shared that she has lost weight since attending SNAP-Ed programs because of changes in eating and exercising habits, while another shared that due to attending a program on whole grains, her family has replaced their regular pasta with whole grain pasta.
Brown County 4-H Junior Leaders is a service learning group for teens. Individuals involved in this program volunteer at 4-H events throughout the county, giving back to other 4-H members; and they develop service projects to benefit the Brown County community at-large. In 2016, these teens wrote two grants that were funded for a total of $650 to support their community service efforts. Through this program, teens have reported developing skills that will assist them in their future career fields including public speaking, communication, responsibility, leadership, grant writing, and program planning.
By delivering programs to youth audiences, we are better able to promote change across the life span. SNAP-Ed in Brown County is reaching out to children of all ages. We currently collaborate with agencies serving children ages pre-K through eighth grade, where these youth participate in SNAP-Ed programming for the duration of their school year. Change has been noted in Brown County youth. One middle school participant shared that she now drinks fruit smoothies on a regular basis after making them in class. Another shared that she uses nutrition labels on foods now when purchasing snacks so she is getting the healthier option. Pre-K teachers have reported that their students remember what they have learned at SNAP-Ed programs and talk about it during meals. Teachers also report that parents say their children talk about SNAP-Ed classes and that they are using the knowledge they receive through indirect programming to make changes at home.
With the continued costs involved in starting a family farm, the need for business transition from one generation to the next may be greater than ever before. The value of both land and equipment that a family accumulates over time can be astronomical. Two sessions were held, with specialists explaining several options of planning and transition of the agricultural business to the next generation. The program was offered in the afternoon and repeated in the evening, with a total of 88 people representing 57 operations in the Tri-County area. Brown County had 22 farming operations represented by attendees. The knowledge gained included the use of trusts, wills, LLCs, long-term health care, and how life insurance can be utilized. In many cases, there are multiple heirs, but not all plan to continue the business. All want to be fair, but fair may not allow the family business to survive.
The Small Farm College held in Brown County utilized the traditional curriculum helping small farm landowners identify opportunities for their land. This class was 50 percent women, had five individuals that indicated they were military veterans and two participants were high school students. Program surveys indicated that 65.5 percent of the participants in this college developed or changed their plan for use of their farm property as a result of attending this college. Twelve of those attending were from Brown County. The number one response to the question “What is the motivation for farm ownership?” is lifestyle (39.4 percent), and retirement was second (20.1 percent). Participants gave the three colleges an overall excellent rating of 8.93 on a 10-point scale.
Brown County 4-H is the largest youth organization in the county with 749 members involved in 33 community clubs. Community clubs provide positive adult/youth interactions focused around educational project experiences, which include the development of life skills, leadership development, healthy living skills, service to the community, and effective communication. Additionally, 167 youth served as a club officer to expand their knowledge and skill development. Each club participates in community service projects to support Brown County including river sweeps, road clean-ups, and volunteering at the Veterans Home. 4-H members were directly impacted by 200 caring adult volunteers. Based on an estimated 35 hours contributed annually by each volunteer, the value of their service exceeded $200,000.
Extension provides relevant, timely, research-based information to community members. With technology, many turn to the Internet for information, however, in Brown County there is still a need for traditional means of communication. Evaluations indicate that 79.1 percent of those attending face-to-face ANR programs were at least 60 years old and do not have access to the internet. The ANR educator utilizes nine local newspapers in the tri-county area, including three in Brown County, and five local radio spots per week to provide information on educational topics and announcements for upcoming programs. The 4-H educator utilizes local papers to provide information on upcoming programs and highlight youth and volunteer accomplishments. Frequent phone calls come into the office for more information based on the information shared on the radio or in the newspapers.
Through a partnership with the Brown County Solid Waste Authority, Brown County 4-H provides environmental education and promotes recycling within its community clubs. Nine clubs participated in a county wide aluminum can recycling project. The goal was to encourage recycling in the community and to keep cans out of the landfill. From April 1 to October 15, participants recycled 1,648 pounds or .86 tons of aluminum cans. Members encouraged family members, parents’ workplaces and other businesses to participate in the project. According to the EPA, recycling one ton of aluminum cans conserves the equivalent of 26 barrels of oil, or 1,234 gallons of gasoline. Additionally, in partnership with the Adams Brown Recycling Center, 4-H clubs participated in the Amazing Recycling Race at the Brown County fair. Clubs collected recyclables around the fairgrounds and they were weighed each day; clubs collected 1,369 pounds of recyclables, keeping these items out of the landfill and improving the environment.
Water quality issues continue to be front page news, and OSU Extension is involved in training farmers to improve their use of nutrients involved with producing crops and livestock. Improvements in the application of nutrients on crop ground will improve the environment with cleaner and safer water, but it will also improve the bottom line for producers. Nutrients are a valuable and essential part of producing a profitable crop. Teaching producers to utilize nutrients to reduce the impact on the environment and increase their own bottom line is a winning situation. Fertilizer education programs are designed to do both. Through the training, producers are informed of practices that include improvements in the rate of nutrients or fertilizer applied, the right timing of the application, the right product and the right or proper placement of the nutrients applied. In 2016, the ANR educator trained 168 producers including 50 from Brown County. These improvements increase efficiency and reduce the impact on the environment. By making better choices of the product applied, many producers were able to save money and improve yields by utilizing their fertilizer dollars to meet the needs of the crop being grown. On the post-evaluation, 100 percent stated that this program improved their knowledge about nutrient management.