Clark County (2016)

2016 County Highlights
Clark County

3130 East Main Street Springfield, OH 45505

Phone: 937-521-3860
Pamela Bennett
Health and Wellness

Recipients of the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) learn how to stretch their food dollars through interactive classes. OSU Extension reached 9,602 individuals in classes on nutrition, food safety, food budgeting, and food security. As a result, participants were significantly less likely to run out of food at the end of the month, were more likely to make economical and healthier choices when grocery shopping, and were more likely to provide healthier meals for their families.

Each year, more than 2 million youth under the age of 20 are exposed to farm-related safety hazards with 33,000 injured at a cost of $1 billion. In all, 1,201 Clark County 4-H and FFA members learned firsthand the importance of working safely with their animal projects to prevent injury to themselves and their animals. After training, 93 percent indicated their knowledge about personal protective equipment increased, with 96 percent indicating that they would always use personal protective equipment. Worker safety not only benefits the youth producer, using the right equipment properly means a higher quality food product entering the food chain at project completion.

Obesity, poor nutrition, and physical activity disproportionately affect minority and low-income citizens. Of the estimated 138,333 residents living in Clark County, 14.5 percent are living in poverty. In an effort to reduce this disparity and improve the health and well-being of Ohioans, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) teaches an eight-lesson nutrition education series to low-income families with children. EFNEP, funded by USDA-NIFA, supported 1.75 FTE staff members in the OSU Extension – Clark County office. In 2015, a total of 250 families were impacted by EFNEP. The 98 adult graduates and 20 youth graduates significantly increased knowledge and improved behaviors in diet quality (84 percent), food resource management (84 percent), and food safety (52 percent), resulting in Clark County residents making healthier choices.

After completing six lessons, Clark County EFNEP youth participants reported significant increases in knowledge and positive behavior changes in the areas of diet quality (57 percent), food safety (29 percent), and physical activity (43 percent).

Job Skills and Careers

Foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year. Most cases can be prevented through education on proper cooking or processing of foods to destroy bacteria. Taught in collaboration with the Clark County Health Department, the ServSafe Food Handler Program for Managers was taught six times reaching 103 food service professionals. The objectives of ServSafe are to provide food safety education to food service managers and to facilitate food safety certification with the National Restaurant Association and the Ohio Department of Health. Each participant completed 16 hours of training followed by a certification exam.

In partnership with local high schools, businesses and community volunteers, more than 200 high school students from two local schools and Jobs and Family Services participated in the Real Money. Real World. program. Real Money. Real World. is an interactive financial literacy program that gives youth a “real” look into the costs of maintaining a household and the interrelationships between education, jobs and money. Through participation in this program, youth reported an 87 percent increase in gaining a better idea of what is involved in earning, spending and managing money.

Thriving Across the Life Span

The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Clark County’s 4-H camp offered 210 campers and counselors opportunities to succeed in all three areas. After camp, 100 percent indicated camp helped them make new friends, 98 percent said they were led to try something new, 92 percent expanded their creativity, 93 percent learned how to become more responsible for self, 98 percent were provided with positive role models, and 95 percent said camp helped them become part of a team to take on a challenge.

In 2016, 405 adults and 243 teens served as volunteers with the Clark County 4-H program. They are making a difference with nearly 3,000 youth contributing an average of 50 hours of annual service worth $695,304. These volunteers gave leadership to 72 4-H clubs engaging youth in learning by doing with 4,310 projects.

What campers get out of camp is largely dependent upon those serving as their camp counselors. In 2016, 62 teens served as counselors for overnight camp, and 34 teens served in similar roles during three different 4-H day camp programs in Clark County. At least 95 percent of the overnight campers and 99 percent of the STEM campers rated their counselor as awesome or great, with 89 percent of overnight campers indicating that they want to become a counselor one day. Teamwork, communication, time management, working through differences were job skills that counselors felt they developed though the program.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress for science scores, youth who participate in hands-on activities, investigations, or out-of-school science activities and have access to science tools and equipment have higher science scores. The STEM-tomic Bonds 4-H Camp provided just this type of experience for 87 youth in partnership with the Global Impact STEM Academy. More than 95 percent of the participants indicated the camp increased their interest in STEM, provided positive STEM mentors, expanded their STEM knowledge and enhanced their problem-solving skills.

A variety of classes including the evidence-based Matter of Balance curriculum, as well as Aging Smart, and Master of Memory reached 85 older adults. Evaluations indicate that 94 percent of participants feel more confident to remain independent in their homes and less socially isolated. 

Sustainable Food Systems

The third annual Local Foods Summit attracted more than 100 people who worked together to develop the framework for a food coalition. As a result, OSU Extension will be leading the effort to create a food coalition focused on education. An effort in our community to develop a network of growers, consumers, educators, restaurants and others was held in November with the goal to continue the conversation regarding local foods. We challenged our community to identify and attempt to break down barriers to growing, purchasing and utilizing local foods. More than 95 percent indicated a willingness to purchase locally.

Engaged Ohioans, Vibrant Communities

Master Gardener Volunteers donated 13,164 hours of service to our community in a variety of projects including answering consumer gardening questions on the Horticulture Helpline, working with 4-H youth to teach them how to plant and maintain the flowerbeds at the fairgrounds, as well as planting and maintaining the Snyder Park Gardens and Arboretum. The Independent Sector organization estimates the 2015 value of volunteer time in Ohio at $22.06 per hour, making this contribution a total of $290,397.84. MGVs worked with partners to develop a master plan to develop a public garden at the former Snyder Park Golf Course. This garden will have more than 25 acres that will become a public garden used for teaching, bringing tourists to the area, and demonstrating best management practices to minimize the use of pesticides. So far, $180,000 of the half-million dollars needed to make this public garden a reality has been raised. Five gardens have been established at the site to-date, including the field trials, turf research plots, Victory Garden, Garden of Eatin' and the Early Ohio Settlers Garden.

Research shows that community gardens provide tangible benefits such as fresh vegetables, and intangible benefits such as fostering communication among neighbors, which can lead to building neighborhoods and developing a sense of community. There were 29 neighborhood and organization community gardens in our SEEDS community garden program organized and implemented by OSU Extension. With grant funding, we were able to purchase tools and soil as needed, and to provide seeds, plants and additional supplies for these gardens. In addition, we hosted three workshops, numerous one-on-one coaching sessions, and site visits to work with the individuals raising vegetables for their families. MGVs raised more than 6,000 pounds of produce that was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

More than 100 individuals attended Successful Co-Parenting, a court-mandated program for divorcing couples with children under the age of 18. Afterward, 98 percent of participants said they feel more prepared to co-parent. When asked what they will do differently as a result of the program, attendees said “Listen and think before I respond” and “Always ask myself if this is a good choice for my children and/or how it will affect them.”

Environmental Quality

One in three bites of the food we eat is the result of honeybee pollination. In 2016, 250 Clark County youth joined 1,750 other Ohio youth to engineer a bee bot and construct foraging routes. Local youth beekeepers shared their beekeeping experiences using observation hives to drive home honeybees' unique behaviors and the threats to ensuring a colorful palette for humans to enjoy. As a result of participation in the Honey Bee Challenge, 78 percent of the youth are more interested in science and agriculture careers, with 97 percent believing that honey bees are a good way to increase food production for our world.

Clark County receives $11,559 in federal funding for nutrition education for low-income people, thanks to Extension’s local-state-federal partnership. Visit for more information.