The Master Gardener Volunteer “Grow with Gardening” project is in its third year in 2016. The goals of the program were to help families learn sustainable gardening skills and use them in the future, and to give families more control over what they eat thus being more connected to nature and having an increase in their physical activity and well-being. The families were selected by Habitat for Humanity, and it was funded by a Mary Rutan Hospital Foundation community health and wellness grant. The Logan County Citizens Corp and many other local businesses and groups also assisted with the project. This was the third and final year of the program.
Science, technology, engineering and math are areas of deficiency for many students. In an effort to increase excitement and confidence in STEM subjects, programs are conducted once a month at the Chippewa Outreach Center and Russell’s Point Outreach Center, both at Indian Lake. Students in kindergarten through high school participate in science and engineering programs during family activity night at the outreach center. On average, 25 youth attend the programs monthly. Activities conducted include the Drone Discovery 4-H Science Activity, an activity with honey bees, making seed bombs, creating recycled wildlife habitats, making a stethoscope, and more.
There are many benefits to youth volunteering, but a research study entitled "The Troubled Journey" conducted by the Search Institute shows that youth who volunteer just one hour per week are less likely to be involved in drugs, alcohol, tobacco or other destructive behaviors. The 4-H program provides such volunteer opportunities. Teen leaders in Junior Fair Board, 4-H CARTEENS, and camp counseling contributed 2,400 hours of volunteer service. This contribution is valued at $19,440, based on the student minimum wage of $8.10. These teen leaders make our community a better place in which to live and raise families.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 60,248 traffic accidents (with 156 fatalities) occurred in 2015, involving drivers ages 16-20. Of those accidents, the young drivers were at fault two out of three times. This group has the second highest number of accidents and the highest percentage of accidents where the driver was at fault. The goal of CARTEENS is twofold: teach first-time traffic offenders between ages 15 and 18 how to make cautious and responsible decisions, and teach them how to drive safer to prevent such tragedies. Participants take part in a series of activities that promote safe driving and encourage good decision-making skills. The 4-H educator works with teen volunteers to lead the sessions. Since November 2015, 114 teen drivers participated in CARTEENS. After participating, 91 percent said the program will help them become a better driver, and 95 percent said they will use more caution when they drive. The program is a cooperative effort between the 4-H program and the Logan County juvenile court.
Logan County 4-H is reaching more than traditional 4-H club members. In 2016, 470 youth participated in at least one 4-H in the Classroom program. These programs included STEM (water cycle and nutrition), agriculture (pollinator and bread making), and life skill education (Real Money. Real World.). Three of the four school districts and an alternative school were involved in school programs, which is an increase from years past.
Real Money. Real World. is a financial literacy program for youth that was taught at Adriel and Ben Logan Middle Schools. The 133 participants spent a day in the life of a 27-year-old adult with a career and family. They tried to make ends meet during a simulation of monthly bills. Students made car and house payments, bought groceries, paid for child care, and spent money on typical daily life expenditures. After the program, students commented on the expense of child care and that they would do their best to get some sort of education (college, technical, etc.) after high school. The program will be offered at two schools and maybe a third school in 2017.
The Top of Ohio EERA Agriculture and Natural Resources educators provide private pesticide applicator training in Logan County in the absence of an ANR educator. This training strives to protect human health and the environment by providing education on the effective and safe use of pesticides. In 2016, 36 farmers attended the three-hour pesticide applicator recertification training in February.
The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program is a research-based education volunteer program, and Logan County has a new group of these volunteers. The OCVN program emphasizes hands-on natural resource and environmental education coupled with volunteer service. Seven OCVN volunteers received 40+ hours of combined classroom and field instruction; and upon completing the OCVN course and exam, participants provide 40 hours of volunteer service. The hope is many of these hours will be in Logan County with the Bellefontaine Parks, Indian Lake State Parks, and other local environmental agencies/groups with a compatible program mission.
Assuring Quality Care for Animals is a program that teaches best practices that guarantee producing quality and safe animal products for consumers, as well as responsible animal handling, care and welfare not only in farm animal production, but also with companion and performance animals. This year, the focus of the program was environmental stewardship, workplace safety and animal handling and care; 303 Logan County 4-H and FFA members attended sessions or tested out of the program.