Ohio SNAP-Ed is the nutrition component of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In Knox County, the SNAP-Ed program is provided by a federally funded program assistant who provides direct educational programming with community partners.
Through Knox County 4-H, 1,111 youth participated in 64 community 4-H clubs and activities, completing 2,009 4-H projects. They demonstrated a gain in life skills, public speaking, leadership, and citizenship. The program was supported by 189 volunteers.
A total of 250 Mount Vernon High School and Knox County Career Center youth, 47 Fredericktown students, and 287 eighth-grade students from Mount Vernon Middle School completed the Real Money. Real World. experience with data collected in pre- and post-event surveys. The participants documented learning in a variety of areas related to money matters, family planning, education, and planning for their future in the workforce.
Agriculture Awareness Day was open to all fourth-grade students in the county on May 10. There were 25 fourth-grade classrooms in attendance, with more than 528 youth attending 22 stations related to animals, plants, food-sourcing, and the history of agriculture in Knox County. More than 55 volunteers coordinated the stations and 27 Junior Fair Board youth served as group leaders.
School enrichment experiences were presented to youth in five school districts. Go Plants was presented to three classrooms (62 youth); Rockets Away! was presented to five classrooms (117 youth); Weather Together was presented to two classroom (42 youth); Team Up for Good Nutrition/Chose It! Lose It! was presented to six classrooms (109 youth); Chose It! Use It! was presented to three classrooms (68 youth); and ChickQuest was presented to 16 classrooms (425 youth).
Acres of Adventure is an after-school program held at St. Vincent De Paul School, providing 30 preschool through eighth-grade students an introduction to the world of agriculture and life sciences through a two-part curriculum. Partners from OSU Extension and St. Vincent De Paul continued this one day each week during the 2015-2016 school year.
Together with 38 campers and six counselors from Holmes County, 128 Knox County 4-H campers (ages 8 to 14) and 36 Knox County 4-H counselors (ages 14 to 18) attended the five-day 4-H junior camp at 4-H Camp Ohio. They participated in adventure activities, crafts, shooting sports, living history, and nature studies. Of the survey respondents, 89 percent listed at least one thing they had learned at camp, and 75 percent listed at least one skill they had enhanced through their camp experience.
After-school programming at Mount Vernon (28 students) and Fredericktown (50 students) was conducted once each week utilizing STEM activities, crafts, and team-building curricula. Before-school programming at Pleasant Street Elementary centered on nutrition and exercise for 78 students in grades K through 5.
A total of 80 farmers from Knox and 10 surrounding counties attended the 2016 Central Ohio Agronomy School – “The Nuts and Bolts about Corn and Soybean Production,” a six-week in-depth series on critical agronomic production topics. These producers reported production of more than 19 million bushels of corn, 5.7 million bushels of soybeans, nearly 1 million bushels of wheat, and more than 25,000 tons of Alfalfa. These producers were responsible for adding more than $130 million in annual sales to their local economies. Of the respondents, 100 percent would recommend this school to others. This school has been offered six times since 2006 (every other year); 66 percent of this year’s participants have attended five previous schools. 70 percent attended four previous schools, while 76 percent and 88 percent have attended three previous and two previous schools, respectively.
Technology is changing production practices on many Knox County farms. Today’s soaring input prices have placed a greater emphasis on better input management. Many farmers are turning to technology to improve economic efficiencies. More than 248 farmers attended educational activities to increase their knowledge of precision ag technologies. Topics included data management, yield monitor operation, yield monitor calibration, developing variable rate applications, and drone applications. Of those surveyed, 100 percent indicated technology now plays a very important role in their day-to-day farming operations.
Approximately 25 county beef producers attended the three-session beef school held via broadcast technology. The 2016 Ohio Beef School provided producers across the state with education on various topics focused on selling to the markets.
Efforts to ensure safe and wholesome foods are grown in Knox County and across the state continued by educating 64 individuals on Good Agricultural Practices through two county trainings. The area of focus this year was directed toward better record keeping, tracking your produce, and water quality/management.
Gleaning Knox County was created by an agriculture and natural resource intern for collecting leftover crops from a farmer’s harvested field or on fields where it is no longer profitable to harvest. The gleaned produce is then donated to local churches and food banks where it is distributed to those in need. From May through October, 2,144 pounds of produce was collected and 1,116 food-insecure families where given produce. Of those families, 489 had minors in their homes.
A total of 23 Master Gardener Volunteers gave approximately 460 hours back to the community by leading programs and events. During the spring garden workshop, nearly 67 gardeners learned how to start a prairie, coordinate a community garden, and manage low-cost landscaping.
This year, 14 Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists donated approximately 280 hours of service with the Knox County Parks District, Ramsier Arboretum, and Brown Family Environmental Center. Various citizen and science projects were conducted such as stream monitoring, blue bird counts, moth identification, and invasive weed pulling.
Each year, Knox County farmers estimate losing 10 percent to 25 percent of their yields to pest-related problems. This equates to a loss of $12 to $30 million dollars annually. 168 farmers participated in educational activities aimed at reducing these losses. Topics included: weed identification and control, herbicide injury symptoms, disease identification and control, insect identification and control, nutrient deficiency symptoms, proper scouting techniques, and economic thresholds. Farmers who attended these programs reported they expected to reduce loses by 25 percent to 50 percent due to changes in their management practices. This equates to savings of about $7.5 to $15 million dollars annually.
Pesticides play an important role in crop production. Farmers wanting to apply restricted-use pesticides are licensed and required to receive recertification training every three years. Pesticide Applicator Training classes were attended by 212 registered applicators. This year’s training classes focused on pest identification and using pesticides in a manner that is environmentally sound and economically feasible. Evaluations show 91 percent have improved their pest identification knowledge, while 100 percent are more aware of pesticide safety practices.
Fertilizer is an essential input in crop production. Ohio Law now requires farmers and commercial fertilizer applicators who apply fertilizer to 50 acres or more, to be certified by September 2017. These applicators must attend a 2- or 3-hour training session. A total of 75 applicators attended training classes in Knox County. This year’s training classes focused on applying nutrients in an economically feasible and agronomically and environmentally sound manner. Topics included water quality, proper soil sampling techniques, plant nutrient requirements, fertilizer sources, nutrient economics, and calculating fertilizer recommendations.