OSU Extension helps adults with limited resources make healthy, safe, and budget-friendly food choices through the USDA-funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). One family shared the practical changes they are making in their everyday routine to become healthier. A mother and her 10-year-old son were able to attend EFNEP classes together. The son suggested they drink 2 percent milk instead of full-fat milk. He also kept track of the steps that he walked each day. Together they read food package labels while shopping at the grocery store. Another big change for the mother was to stop drinking energy drinks and replace almost completely with water and an occasional diet soda. This is one healthier family for certain because of the practical and achievable steps taught in the EFNEP curriculum.
4-H school enrichment programs challenge youth to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in a variety of learning experiences. During the 2015-2016 school year, more than 600 students from all school districts in Coshocton County were engaged in school enrichment programs. These programs enhance skills that are being taught daily in the classroom, assisting teachers to accomplish state standards.
- More than 260 students from Coshocton Elementary, Union Elementary, and Ridgewood Middle School participated in Rockets Away! This program challenges youth to use science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills to investigate forces and motion, while building and launching 2-liter bottle rockets.
- For the 2015-2016 school year, more than 350 high school students participated in a Real Money. Real World. simulation. This included River View, Ridgewood, and Coshocton high schools, as well as the Coshocton County Career Center and the Opportunity School. The simulation provided students an opportunity to make lifestyle and money management choices similar to those made by a 27-year-old adult. As a result of the simulation, many participants became aware of how education level and lifestyle choices influence personal income. Afterward, 67 percent of participants indicated that because of the Real Money. Real World. experience, they are very likely to now “have a plan for my money that includes both needs and wants.”
The 2016 Coshocton County 4-H program had 633 4-H members taking 1,035 projects. Nearly 200 adult volunteers led 35 separate 4-H community clubs throughout Coshocton County. 218 youth and adult volunteers participated in recognizing child abuse and neglect training so they can continue to provide a safe environment for 4-H members and families. A total of campers participated in many fun physical activities at 4-H junior camp themed, “Challenge Through the Decades.”
OSU Extension and Local Bounty Coshocton once again partnered to offer a Local Foods Kids Cooking Camp. Local Bounty Coshocton is a year round farmers market featuring dozens of vendors from Coshocton and nearby counties. Twenty children, ages 4 to 11, learned to make simple meals and treats using locally produced vegetables, herbs, cheeses, honey, and baked goods. All caregivers of the participants agreed that because of Kids Cooking Camp their child gained skills in food preparation and was more willing to try new foods than before. A total of 65 children have completed the program over the past four years. There have also been a total of 11 instructors over the four seasons. These instructors include vendors at Local Bounty, community members who are proponents of local foods, and OSU Extension staff. The program is supported through a participant fee and a grant from the Columbus Foundation.
The Coshocton County Farmers Breakfasts increased awareness on a variety of timely agricultural and rural topics. Guest speakers were invited to teach about technology, government and legal issues, current events, and opportunities related to agriculture in Coshocton County. Five monthly Farmers Breakfasts were held from November 2015 to March 2016, with a total of 166 total people attending. These programs are a collaborative effort of OSU Extension, Coshocton Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Farm Service Agency.
Understanding community and customer needs is an important component of an organization’s success. Using a combination of surveys and focus group discussions, an OSU Extension Community Development educator worked with Coshocton County Head Start to identify the perceptions, expectations, and experiences of Head Start parents, staff, board members, and community partners. The information collected from this process helped the organization’s leaders put together a plan of action to best meet the needs of Head Start students and families.
The Coshocton County offices of OSU Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Farm Service Agency have collaborated for many years to implement an annual Fall Foliage and Farm Tour in different areas of Coshocton County. The 2016 tour brought nearly 1800 people through the northwestern section of Coshocton County over the beautiful weekend. These participants represented 10 states and 34 Ohio counties. In fact, 20 percent of the participants registered reside outside of Coshocton County. The volunteer tour stops included beef, dairy, and horse farms, a furniture manufacturer, and an upland gamebird hunting preserve. What a wonderful way to draw individuals into Coshocton County and to increase awareness of local agriculture and natural resources related businesses and industries.
During the Coshocton and Muskingum counties’ Agronomy School, 35 farmers and agricultural crop professionals learned about insect and disease management, fertilizer rates, and improving corn yield while managing input costs. These participants estimated they would save an average of $300 per acre in the upcoming season based on knowledge gained at the school. Nearly half (46 percent) of the participants intended to adjust or change plans based on knowledge that they learned from the program. These changes related to fertilizer rates and seed selection. The vast majority (92 percent) of the participants planned to tell someone else about something they learned from attending this Agronomy School.
Through agricultural fertilizer applicator certification training this year, 44 farmers learned about the benefits of cover crops, best management practices for phosphorus application, and quality soil sampling. At least 93 percent of the participants responded that they improved their knowledge about nutrient management because of the training. Also, 60 percent of the participants responded that they would change their nutrient management practices as a result of this meeting. Nearly 150 farmers earned their agricultural fertilizer applicator certification in Coshocton County over the past two years.
Master Gardener Volunteers, trained by OSU Extension, help share research-based information with gardeners through workshops, community gardens, and one-on-one consultations. In Coshocton County, 11 active Master Gardener Volunteers volunteered more than 700 hours to educate people and beautify the community in 2016. These total volunteer hours equate to more than $15,000. Volunteers taught a three-part “Beat the Winter Blahs” series during winter months as well as Lunch and Learn programs throughout summer months to improve gardening skills and encourage creative projects. During the First Farm Friday outreach day, Master Gardener Volunteers focused on Monarch butterflies. They talked to approximately 200 people and gave out 65 milkweed seed packets and 100 educational coloring sheets to youth.