Current research is expanding the understanding of personal health and wellness to include not only healthy eating and physical activity but also stress reduction. The Family Consumer Sciences (FCS) program in Lucas County partners with many community organizations/businesses to offer educational programs that help to enhance and protect health and raise awareness about many lifestyle diseases. Participants indicate a willingness to try mindful-practices following lessons, to use sun block and sun safe clothing, increase physical activity and healthy eating. The online email challenges asked participants to set at least 3 personal goals throughout the six-week programs in the areas of physical activity; increasing vegetable and fruit consumption; and stress management. At least 116 adults participated in the 2016 online wellness challenges by setting goals to improve overall wellness and tracking behaviors to make healthy choices.
With the growing local foods movement, consumer interest in home food preservation has increased in importance and popularity. The National Center for Home Food Preservation conducted two national surveys revealing that many home food processors are using practices that put them at high risk for foodborne illness and or economic losses due to food spoilage. FCS offers community classes on basic home food preservation, testing of home pressure canner gauges and answers individual questions by email, phone and in person. Ninety-eight families received answers to their questions about safe food storage and home food preservation.
Extension addresses basic nutrition education to improve the health and well-bring of residents in Lucas County through FCS which includes the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). In 2014, an estimated 86,737 Lucas County residents lived in poverty and 70 percent of all Lucas County adults reported they were either overweight or obese by Body Mass Index (BMI). Obesity, poor nutrition and physical inactivity disproportionately affect minority and low-income citizens.
In an effort to reduce disparities in access to basic nutrition education and improve the health and well-being of Lucas County residents EFNEP teaches an 8 lesson nutrition education series to low-income families. Graduates significantly increased knowledge and improved behaviors in diet quality by 80 percent and food resource management by 79 percent, resulting in graduates running out of food less often. A total of 9,229 Ohio youth participated in EFNEP.
SNAP-Ed is an educational program for residents who receive or are eligible to receive SNAP benefits. There were 635 programs, reaching 9,085 Lucas County residents through direct education.
4-H, in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Northwest Ohio, presented STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Education through a robotics course. More than 200 youth, ages 5 to 10, from three different elementary schools learned about the basics of robotics from entry level programming to advanced sensor technology. The goal of STEM education is to encourage students to consider a future career in a STEM field.
This year, 24 adults participated in the second annual Extension Master Urban Farmer Program. Participants earned a Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certificate which provided helpful tools and resources to develop risk assessments and food safety plans for farms and promote high-quality safe produce from growers. They networked with others with similar passions and were engaged in classes including integrated pest management, animal husbandry, soils/ fertilizers, land use and business planning.
Nearly 100 green industry professionals participated in local training and had an opportunity to earn arborist, Ohio Certified Nursery Technician and pesticide credits at the annual Green Industry Summer Session at Owens Community College.
The Ohio Sea Grant led a partnership the Toledo Chamber of Commerce to develop an ongoing 10-week Leadership Academy for local government officials. In all, 28 officials representing eight coastal communities participated. Participants learned about the economic, social and environmental impacts of the decisions they make regarding land use and the environment. The program facilitated community relationship building and helped to build future partnerships.
The 4-H Youth Development program has 15 community clubs with total enrollment of 238 youth and 40 volunteers. The youth participated by taking projects in more than 30 projects areas including gardening, animals, nutrition and shooting sports. Every youth taking livestock projects completed quality assurance training where they learned about environmental stewardship, farm safety, and proper animal handling and care. 4-H also reached more than 1,000 youth through after-school, community group, and in-school enrichment activities and programs.
The first residential 4-H camp in 15 years was held in 2016. The camp was open to all Lucas County youth, ages 8-14. There was a diverse audience of youth-aged campers under the leadership of eight youth counselors. Camp was held at 4-H Camp Palmer in Fayette, Ohio.
One of Lucas County’s fastest growing 4-H programs is archery and firearms and included hands-on instruction, performing equipment safety checks, whistle commands, proper shooting techniques and actual target shooting. The gun safety program partners with the Progressive Fishing Association, utilizing their indoor range. In addition to the county-level participation, Lucas County 4-H Shooting Sports had four youth attend the National Competition in Nebraska where they competed against more than 1,000 youth from 40 states.
4-H CARTEENS is an Extension traffic safety education program for first-time juvenile traffic offenders, and is held locally in cooperation with Lucas County Juvenile Court, Toledo Trucking Association, Lucas County Traffic Safety Program, and Ohio State Highway Patrol. Teens serve as the planners and facilitators gaining valuable leadership experiences including public speaking skills, research skills and are developing educational lessons. More than 300 youth attended CARTEENS. By passing the written exam at the conclusion of the class, youth have points expunged from their license.
With the addition of several new partner sites including Toledo Public Schools, more than 550 students participated in Extension curriculum for Real Money. Real World. During the five-session program, students gained knowledge about careers opportunities and the amount of educational training/schooling required, taxes and deductions, credit cards and other debt and managing a monthly budget.
Extension, in partnership with the Northwest Ohio Food Council (NOFC), promotes a healthy, sustainable and equitable local food system by exploring urban agriculture as an area of growth within the system. Extension and NOFC met with key leaders within the City of Toledo and reviewed current legislation and permitting applicable to urban agriculture. The purpose was to navigate the system using case studies, increase clarity and communication with city departments on behalf of individuals as more people are interested in growing food in the city.
Extension participated in Ohio Local Foods Week by offering programming, highlighting local foods and vendors, and signing-up consumers for the online Ohio Local Foods Challenge where participants committed to spend at least $10 on local food products, supporting both producers and our economy. Lucas County had the most consumers (40 percent) participating, and the average amount for the Lucas County participant was $24. All of the work in local foods and urban agriculture is intended to support ongoing efforts as Lucas County was designated as a USDA Strikeforce county in 2016 – a designation to provide targeted assistance in counties experiencing chronic poverty.
An Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour at University Church exposed participants to agriculture in the city. Attendees learned about and subsequently indicated they would share knowledge gained; were interested in the implementation many practices including growing new varieties of vegetables; installing rain barrels, vertical garden systems, hoop houses, hugelkultur and compost bins; and raising chickens. Participants in the Northwest Ohio Farm to School Conference indicated they would be interested in growing school gardens, offering nutritious food taste-testings to students and seeking funding to help support this work in the classrooms, cafeterias and community that support local producers, the local economy and that youth know where their food comes from.
Extension utilizes 269 trained volunteers to strengthen and extend our work in the county. Volunteers include 4-H, Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists (OCVN). In addition to the more than 5,000 hours of training and continuing education required to remain active, this group of volunteers gave in excess of 18,000 hours with a value of $424,080 (Independent Sector, 2015).
The MGVs teach; they are engaged in citizen-science research; they answer horticulture questions; and they work in gardens where their efforts educate others. A team of MGVs monitor and record phenelogical activity in a replicated common garden in Toledo. MGVs identified common host viburnums of the viburnum leaf beetle at Toledo Botanical Garden and rated the damage this newly discovered invasive insect in the county.
Extension’s OCVN partners with the Metroparks of the Toledo Area on natural resource related projects and events across the county. OCVNs assisted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Nature Conservancy on invasive species management on preserved land in Lucas County.
There are eight agricultural fields in Lucas County included in an Ohio State research project looking at Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) losses from fields as part of a larger Western Lake Erie Basin study. Data will be used to understand what conditions led to DRP loss and what recommended Best Management Practices (BMP) can be implemented to reduce nutrient loss. Additionally, five producers with land in Lucas County have worked with Extension Nutrient Management Plan Writers to assemble a site specific plan with guidelines on 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices for farming operations.
Horticulture Hotline serves as a local resource on soil testing, correct identification and management recommendations of landscape, garden and woodlot pests, thus minimizing the incorrect application of fertilizers and pesticides into the environment. More than 2,500 individual contacts with residents were made through staff and volunteers.