2016 marks the seventh year that the Clinton County junior 4-H camp for youth ages 8-15 has been filled to capacity. 4-H members and non-4-H youth can’t get enough of the positive youth develop programming that’s being offered by trained 4-H counselors and adult staff at 4-H Camp Graham. The goal is to get kids moving in nature and provide a healthy and fun camping environment where kids feel safe, a sense of community and want to engage in new experiences. Camp creates a new community for campers. Camp provides the opportunity to learn and grow outside a camper’s own environment. Through meeting different types of people, children are able to learn more about others and develop compassion. The team offers a variety of camper options: trips, science explorations, canoeing, crafts, community service projects, recycling, archery, swimming, fishing, recreational sports, flag ceremonies, nature hikes, team games, dancing, movies, guest speakers, zip lining and cabin fun all in four-nights and five days. More than 25 community and 4-H volunteers add hands-on programming throughout the camp week that fosters each camper’s growth and development.
Job skills, budget and career exploration is the focus for more than 500 Clinton County students as they navigate the Real Money. Real World. financial literacy program. Eighth-grade students from three school systems participated in the program learning about taxes, incomes, daily living expenses, careers and needs. More than 50 trained community members came together to partner with Wilmington City Schools, Clinton Massie Middle School and Blanchester Middle School students and teachers. The partners included school staff and administrators, local businesses, elected officials, 4-H volunteers, and Master Gardener Volunteers. After participating in the program, students made comments such as “I will start saving money now. I plan to change the way I spend. My needs come before my wants. This program will help me make better choices with my salary.”
The 4-H program helps members and families thrive by providing the ultimate youth development experience. Through many 4-H opportunities, members develop positive characteristics and life skills to be successful adults. To help educate new families on 4-H opportunities from trips to projects. This was the third year for the one-stop night for members, which reached more than 17 new families and more than 40 community members in 2016. The event focused on showing livestock, Cloverbud opportunities, clubs and projects, county camps, fair, skillathon, special fair contests, trips, project requirements, interview judging, 4-H enrollment, forms and entries. Better preparing members and families is a priority in the Clinton County 4-H program to keep both members and families active and engaged in the 4-H program for many years. The county 4-H endowment provided funding to give families a new member packet and 4-H project book. Members could also receive quality assurance certification in a smaller group environment. Members ranging in age from 5-16 attended the program with at least one parent.
A very important part of most rural Ohio counties is the county fair experience, which provides hands-on learning and life skill develop for both visitors and youth participants. By designing a unique partnership with the Clinton County commissioners, direct funding was established in 2013 and has been maintained into 2016 to staff a junior fair coordinator at the OSU Extension office. An increase was made for 2016 to make the position a permanent part-time position. The junior fair coordinator works with the 4-H Youth Development educator to provide fair assistance for 180 4-H volunteers, 650 junior fair members, 600 junior fair buyers, 225 award donors and several county committees and boards. The junior fair coordinator has proven to be invaluable to OSU Extension – Clinton County, as more than 1,000 hours of service is provided each year for junior fair responsibilities. The junior fair coordinator provides support to livestock and non-livestock shows and sales, pre-fair events, exhibits, award programs, contests, horticulture and agriculture displays, and cooking and sewing contests. The position helps decrease the amount of time the support staff and 4-H educator spend on fair management so efforts can focus more on county program needs.
The Ohio State Small Farm program continues to thrive. Three small farm colleges and two small farm conferences were held with a total of 413 small farm enthusiasts participating. Since the program’s inception in 2005, 904 individuals representing 604 farms have participated in the Small Farm College.
- The Small Farm College in Athens and Miami counties utilized a newly enhanced curriculum focusing more on business plan development providing participants a definitive strategy to develop small farm operations and prepare them to apply for a loan. The modified curriculum included interactive lessons to create balance sheet and cash flow statements, marketing and business plans, and an executive summary. In these two colleges, 43 participants and 52.4 percent of those attending were female. Of all participants, only 35 percent had some type of previous agriculture training. Initial survey of participants found 77 percent did not have a financial plan and 79.5 percent did not have a marketing plan for their operations. Most attendees (80.5 percent) indicated they had started or changed their farm business plan.
- The Brown County Small Farm College 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
- With all three colleges combined (78 participants from 15 counties), 59 percent of all participants indicated this was the first OSU Extension program they had attended proving we are still reaching a new audience with this program. The number one response to the question “What is the motivation for farm ownership?” was lifestyle (39.4 percent).
- Small Farm Conferences reached 335 farm enthusiasts from 60 Ohio counties as well as Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. Respondents to post-conference surveys indicated 17.6 percent farmed full-time and 49.3 percent farmed part-time. Of those attending, 27.7 percent either owned land and were not involved in an agriculture enterprise or did not own land yet and were not involved in an agriculture enterprise. Seven percent indicated they rented land.
- Conference evaluation responses indicated 49.8 percent of those attending owned 25 acres or less, and only 13.6 percent owned more than 100 acres. Overall, 92 percent of conference attendees responding indicated the conference would help them in the profitability of their farm enterprises.
Pesticide Applicator Training is a crucial component of a vibrant and sustainable approach to food production. It has been well-established that controlling pests in crop production systems is essential to sustainability. Pesticides, when used responsibly, have the potential to increase crop yields and increase quality that makes crop production hopefully more profitable. This year, 55 farmers recertified their applicator licenses by attending an OSU Extension – Clinton County training session. More than 160 farmers are licensed in Clinton County and must obtain three hours of recertification every three years. Participants (97.5 percent) are better informed about pesticide issues and regulations, and 95 percent learned how to control insects, diseases, or weeds more effectively. Participants (93 percent) improved pesticide handling practices such as mixing, loading, storing and applying. Evaluations indicate the most important thing learned was herbicide mode/site of action to avoid weed resistance to herbicides and measuring and storing pesticides correctly. On average, each participant applies pesticides on 765 acres making this year’s program reach 42,075 acres of cropland.
Master Gardener Volunteers of Clinton County are small in numbers with only 13 active volunteers, but mighty in community activities. Looked upon by the community as a viable resource to help Clinton County be a vibrant and engaged community, Master Gardener Volunteers were involved in many projects such as the Habitat for Humanity homes teaching families how to care for their new landscapes, the pollinator program that had 12 local businesses support an educational scavenger hunt for youth, summer school programs teaching gardening to youth involved with the Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Centers, library gardening series, and the parks beautification and demonstration gardens. Master Gardener Volunteers performed more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service valued at $21,200 to the community.
Intensive soybean management was a high-impact program designed for producers wanting to be on the “Cutting edge” of soybean production. At this program, 27 producers and crop advisers representing more than 48,400 acres learned about management strategies that could improve yields and in turn increase profits. As a result of this program, 74 percent indicated they increased their knowledge and would adopt at least one practice in the areas of soybean yield components, soil fertility, scouting, seed treatment, soybean cyst nematode management, and optimum row width and seeding rate. Participants reported the value of this program was worth an average of $8.43 per acre.