A health survey of Highland County compiled by OSU Extension Community Development (CD) experts for the Highland County Community Action Organization found that the top health concern of both residents and health professionals is illegal drug use. In fact, more than 70 percent of the residents responded that they personally know someone who takes an illegal drug, including heroin, marijuana and prescription drug abuse. The 2016 Highland County Health Report, which examines other health concerns such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity, is used by health providers and social service agencies to help set priorities for partnership and outreach to address these issues. A full copy of the report can be viewed at go.osu.edu/communityhealth.
This year, 480 4-H members learned about job skills via hands-on training by staffing the 4-H food booth during the Highland County fair. These youth learn decision-making skills, time management skills, customer service, public communication skills and philanthropy while generating funds to help support 4-H programming and scholarships. Youth and adults provide the labor for 40 four-hour shifts to run this full-service restaurant. In this endeavor, youth volunteer 1,920 hours and adults volunteer 1,280 hours for a total value of $ 45,465.60 as calculated using the hourly rate per the independent sector.
More than ever, the youth of today need a clear understanding of how to manage their finances. Real Money. Real World., an OSU Extension signature program that gives middle and high school students an understanding of how current income and life choices affect future income. Participants learn how much to expect to pay for housing, transportation, and childcare, and how to balance “wants” and “needs.” In Highland County, this hands-on program was offered to more than 200 eighth grade youth from Hillsboro City School District. Several youth commented the program made them see the importance of a better education, which should result in greater earnings that would allow them to afford a family. Others stated, “We don’t want to have children, they cost too much.”
Agriculture Reality is a program designed to teach 11th grade vocational agriculture students about the real economics of managing a farm business. This year, 45 students participated, representing four school districts. The simulation allowed students to be landowners and make business decisions about their farm. This collaborative program between OSU Extension, community agencies, and agri-businesses involved 32 farm-related business professionals interacting with the students, making the decisions more realistic. Afterward, 100 percent of the students who participated agreed that participating in this program increased their knowledge of accepted business practices involved with production agriculture. Also, 91 percent said they increased their knowledge and understanding of potential careers associated with agriculture.
A Highland County nonprofit agency was able to secure $90,000 from the Ohio Capital Improvement Fund to expand their facility and increase manufacturing by 10 percent as a result of working with an OSU Extension CD educator on setting strategic goals. The additional funding enabled the organization to launch two new programs that train workers to develop manufacturing job skills, adding to Highland County’s skilled and trained workforce.
With the increasing investment needed to start a farm business, 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 their life span can be sizable. A two-session workshop outlined several options of estate planning and transition of the agricultural business to the next generation. The program reached 88 people representing 57 agricultural businesses in the tri-county area, one or both days. Highland County had 21 farming operations in attendance. The knowledge gained included the use of trusts, wills, LLCs, long-term health care, and how life insurance can be utilized.
The Small Farm College held in Brown County was designed to help small farm landowners identify opportunities for their land. This class was comprised equal numbers of women and men had five military veterans, and two 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. Five of those attending were from Highland County. The number one response to the question “What is the motivation for farm ownership?” is lifestyle (39.4 percent) and retirement income was second (20.1 percent). Participants gave the college an overall excellent rating of 8.93 out of a 10.0 scale.
In 2016, 570 Highland County youth were trained in quality assurance. This program teaches youth about quality care for animals using the 10 good production practices developed by the livestock industries. These practices relate to food safety and animal security as part of “Assuring Quality Care for Animals.” Participates learned how to understand and implement ethical animal treatment, animal well-being practices, food safety practices and government regulations. The seven training sessions were a collaborative effort between the 4-H educator, FFA advisers, fair veterinarian, Senior Fair Board, and 4-H volunteers.
Connecting clientele to educational information is a major part of OSU Extension’s purpose in Highland County. Recent evaluations indicated that 79.1 percent of those attending programs were 60 plus years old, and many do not have access to electronic information sources. To reach this clientele, The ANR educator publishes a column in 9 local newspapers in the tri-county area, including two weekly newspapers in Highland County. Additionally, educational information is recorded for local radio programs, on three stations that cover Highland County, a total of five times each week. Tracking requests for additional information confirms that these methods are effectively reaching clientele.
There were 60 teens involved in providing leadership to activities through Junior Leadership, Junior Fair Board, 4-H awareness teams, and camp counselors. These teen leaders provided approximately 2,160 hours of volunteer service valued at $17,496 (based on student minimum wage of $8.10 per hour per the Independent Sector) to our county. Additionally, their leadership contributed to 4-H programming through traditional clubs, special interest and short term experiences, as well as in-school programming making it possible to reach 2,467 youth in Highland County during 2016. Research also shows that youth who volunteer just one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or engaged in destructive behavior benefiting not only the youth but the entire community.
OSU Extension 4-H partners with Community Safety Net to provide farm and fair safety education to Hillsboro and Bright local school districts. The books, with a cost of $3,510 covered by local community donations, are distributed to third graders. The 4-H educator and teen leaders teach lessons from the books about safety around animals and on the farm. Additionally, this program taught non-farm youth how to be safe when being at livestock exhibitions such as the county fair.
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. The 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 73 from Highland 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-training evaluation, 100 percent stated that this program improved their knowledge about nutrient management.