Hamilton County is one of 21 of Ohio’s 88 counties funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture where Extension is tackling obesity throughout the community through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). The region includes Cincinnati, the third largest metropolitan area in the state, where 62 percent of adult residents are overweight. Poor diet, an established risk factor for obesity is a challenge in Hamilton County, with 75.8 percent of adults consuming fewer than the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Among county youth, 31.7 percent of third graders are overweight or obese, putting their generation at increased risk for adverse health conditions as they get older.
EFNEP specifically targets low-income youth and low-income families with young children and where poverty is a major factor. Cincinnati is among the top 15 poorest cities in the country with a population of 250,000 or more compared to a national poverty rate of 15.9 percent, resulting in one in three Cincinnatians falling below the poverty line. EFNEP assists participants in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and changed behavior necessary to achieve nutritionally sound diets; contributes to the participant's personal development; and improves the total family diet and nutritional well-being. EFNEP programs are delivered as a series of lessons taught by paraprofessionals many of whom are indigenous to the target population. As a result, a total of 237 adults and 1,139 youth were reached by the EFNEP program in Hamilton County, Ohio in 2016. Overall, 44 percent were African-American, 38 percent were white, 7 percent were Latino, and 17 percent reported other or mixed race. EFNEP graduated 179 low-income adults with children. Families had an average of two children, representing 537 individuals reached. Each adult participant received an average of 7.4 lessons on how to select more nutritional foods and gain skills in food preparation, and food safety.
Serving more than 3,324 adults and children, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) focused on teaching adult learner to better manage their families’ food insecurities through an educational series which directed heathier use of their Ohio Direction Card. As a result, data indicates that more than 85 percent of participants showed an “increase of knowledge” after session completion.
Traditional educational approaches have too frequently yielded poor K-12 academic interest in preparing a strong and diverse pool of new students examining agriculture as a field of study.
OSU Extension Hamilton County’s Agri-Science in the City program is centered on the widespread dissemination of a research-based educational resource grounded in agricultural sciences. Taught by an Extension professional, the program meets state curriculum requirements, models best practices in instructional and pedagogical design and engages students in real-world experiences. Classroom instruction features hands-on experiential learning modules through integration of agri-science technology, extension of learned competencies, and increased student exposure to agricultural career pathway. Through a sustainable partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), the Program is likely to impact student diversity in agricultural programs, broaden the science curriculum offerings and appeal to students who may not otherwise have had an interest in agriculture. In an effort to encourage students to study agriculture as a post-secondary option, OSU Extension – Hamilton County participated in Career and College Expo in which approximately 825 11th and 12th grade CPS students learned about local employment opportunities and careers that exist within the 16 nationally recognized Career Clusters. The end result is that students are empowered to choose agricultural as a career pathway at the secondary level allowing them to continue their interest in agricultural sciences through post-secondary options inclusive on-the-job training programs or myriad of agricultural majors and specializations.
OSU Extension – Hamilton County’s Innovation Station summer school enrichment program provided community outreach for youth ages 5-12 through innovative agricultural activities. Innovation Station merges agricultural science with STEM related project-based learning activities. Our goal was to increase the number of non-traditional middle school students examining ag-related career paths. With grant funding provided by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF), Extension provided 20 students with scholarships from the surrounding community at no cost to the families. Our second year of summer enrichment saw a 125 percent increase over prior years’ programming with 165 children and 20 adults participated in 12 sessions over six days. Innovation Station provides educational venues connecting youth with agriculture as it relates to food, science and technology, healthy environments, natural resources, plant and animal life. In addition, the program extended our programming area to identify 10 new partners and agencies and the expansion of our 4-H programs in Hamilton County. Anticipated impacts increased the number of non-traditional middle school students examining agricultural career paths prior to selecting agricultural as a career pathway.
Produce Perks is a partnership between OSU Extension – Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati Health Department. The goal of Produce Perks is to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables in individuals and families who participate in SNAP by offering double the value of fruit and vegetable purchases. In an effort to expand PP in Hamilton County, Extension concentrated on consumer education. A recent article in the New York Times authored by Margot Sanger-Katz, entitled “Giving the Poor Easy Access to Healthy Food Doesn’t Mean They’ll Buy It” emphasized the need for improved consumer education. Research shows that lower-income neighborhoods tend to have less healthy food nearby; therefore, residents tend to eat less healthy, and poverty is often a common denominator. Hamilton County received grant funding in the amount of $5,000 to increase educational awareness on how to prepare fruits and vegetables, and conducted 27 food demonstrations at six farmer’s markets from June to October. This allowed SNAP participants and others who do not regularly shop farmers to ascertain best practices pertaining to perishable food choices from store to storage. For every $1 spent on local produce using SNAP, participants receive $1 produce free, resulted in 7,266 tokens being redeemed.
In the 2016 spring edition of AgriNaturalist magazine from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, the OSU Extension director states that “Ohio State University has a diverse array of expertise and innovators working together. How does this translate to our commercial clientele as well as home owner? The Buckeye Yard and Garden Alert (BYGL) team of local and statewide Extension professionals are on the cutting edge on various subject matters. As a result, Ohio is more prepared to quickly identify problems and provide research-based knowledge on emerging issues. The team provides an educational format through open dialogue about Ohio’s growing conditions, pest and disease management, and other environmental quality issues through print and social media, public broadcast and pod cast learning opportunities. As the result, the sphere of influence continues to spread beyond our state and expands to economies of scale.
Hamilton County’s role in media outreach touches diverse market share through iHeart Radio. Weekly horticulture themed educational series are currently carried by thirty-four radio stations in 12 states. Livestreaming enables learners across international the time zones to “tune in” and listen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is estimated that more than 190,000 listeners are reached on a weekly basis. As a result, our market share of potential clientele has shown significant growth in the southwest and central region of the state.
Pests and diseases originating outside of Ohio can cost citizens, municipalities and businesses billions of dollars. OSU Extension – Hamilton County has been nationally recognized expertise on developing and conducting educational programs on non-native pests and diseases. The 87th Tri-State Green Industry Conference (GIC) was held in February 2016. The GIC is a collaborative effort between OSU Extension – Hamilton and Clermont counties, University of Kentucky, Boone County and Kenton County and Purdue University Extension. Training was provided to more than 600 commercial and private pesticide applicators from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky with certification according to their particular state and federal requirements.
Southwest Ohio BYGLive! Walk About - This is the 20th year for the multi-county and multi- state training sessions aimed at helping horticulture professionals to avoid costly mistakes by increasing by increasing proficiency at plant problem diagnostics and pest and disease management.