Marion County SNAP-Ed has grown its services this past year, serving 1,209 participants from April through September 2016. Through federal funding, the local SNAP-Ed team has grown and programming is reaching students in 16 preschools in the Marion City School District, six Head Start preschool classes with potential to expand to up to 10 more classes after the first of the year. The SNAP-Ed team now works with Grant Middle School, the Harding XL program, Boys and Girls Club, as well as the Summer Food Service Program to provide pertinent education in nutrition and physical activity. Additional partners currently being served include: the Salvation Army, Marion Area Counseling Center, senior facilities, Brownstone Terrace, Seton Square, and Chadwick Place.
SNAP-Ed was instrumental in working with the Salvation Army to put in raised garden boxes. SNAP-Ed introduced the idea and provided the seeds to start garden boxes. The produce was used to supplement the food pantry at the Salvation Army. SNAP-Ed provided education to participants on using the produce and stretching one’s food dollars through the use of seasonal produce.
Cooking Matters was started in fall 2016 in Marion County. Cooking Matters is a six-week course that teaches participants how to make better decisions when shopping, use nutritional information to make healthy choices, and participate in the skills of cooking an affordable meal. The first class of 12 participants was held in collaboration with the Salvation Army. Starting in January this program will be offered at Marion City Schools’ community kitchen and runs on a six-week continual basis. Statewide data has shown significant behavior changes as a result of the SNAP-Ed Cooking Matters program. Participants have become more confident about cooking meals at home and choosing healthier meals when eating away from home.
To avoid a workplace shortage and to encourage Ohioans to obtain careers and/or advance their profession in this industry, Alber Enterprise Center developed a frontline supervisor leadership workshop, followed by three team coaching sessions. The pilot workshops and Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment were conducted with a group of 40 frontline supervisors from United Church Homes, the organization based in Marion County, which serves more than 4,000 long-term care residents in 14 states, including Ohio. Completing this assessment offered front-line supervisors the ability to identify their top five strengths, gain a greater understanding of them, and maximize the use of their strengths working with their staff, thus making them more effective leaders. Post-workshop surveys indicate this group integrated their top five strengths into their work on a regular basis.
4-H camp helps build teamwork, communication, leadership, and job readiness skills, all while giving campers a chance to connect to nature. In Marion County, 128 youth, ages 9 to 13, participated in 4-H camp. This four-night, five-day camp gave youth an opportunity to learn valuable life skills. They also learned about and participated in educational sessions, recreation, team-building activities, and other educational opportunities. The success of this camp was because of 42 teen counselors and 15 adult staff.
Marion County supported 51 4-H clubs. These clubs involved 533 youth, ages 5 to 19 and 77 adult volunteers. Volunteers contributed more than 3,000 hours of time to teach youth life skills such as leadership, decision-making, and communication. Members completed educational projects, community service projects, and practiced public speaking through demonstrations and presentations to their clubs.
Nearly 540 youth participated in quality assurance training and animal skillathons. These educational programs were offered for sheep, swine, rabbits, poultry, beef, dairy, horses, and goats. The programs covered a variety of topics including showmanship, proper animal care, nutrition, equipment, and grooming. Following the programs, many participants indicated they felt more prepared to care for and exhibit their animal project.
This year, 56 teens participated in at least 16 hours of leadership and event management training taught by the Extension personnel through their participation on the Marion County Junior Fair Board. The teens contributed an average of 15 hours of leadership service each.
4-H camp counselor training (approximately 24 hours) was completed by 42 teens. They learned the responsibility of caring for children, as well as how to plan and coordinate camp activities and education sessions.
A total of 75 youth (5- to 8-year-olds) were enrolled in the countywide 4-H Cloverbud program. The Cloverbud day camp was attended by 34 youth. Participants indicated they made new friends, learned new skills, and had fun.
Real Money. Real World. gives students an awareness of how income and life choices affect lifestyle. Participants simulate life experience at age 27 and pay for housing, transportation, child care, and other monthly expenses. This hands-on program reached nearly 200 Marion County eighth graders. The program gave them a better idea of what is involved in earning, spending, and managing money.
This year, 42 private pesticide applicators were recertified for their Ohio Department of Agriculture pesticide licenses during two, three-hour sessions. Of those surveyed, 90 percent stated they were more aware of the interaction of pesticide usage and their environment after attending these meetings.
Managing nutrients to improve water quality is a high priority for Marion County farmers, especially since 60,000 acres are located within the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed. This year, 25 farmers attended two Fertilizer Applicator Certification programs. Attendees to these programs learned best management practices for managing soil test levels and applying nitrogen and phosphorus.
Marion County farmers have crop nutrient resources of swine manure and poultry litter locally available as an alternative to commercial fertilizer. One meeting was held to outline the 4Rs (right rate, right source, right time, and right placement) of these products in crop production.
An urban soil testing program was developed for lawn and garden owners to submit soil samples to be analyzed for current nutrient levels. Six property owners per month have identified their exact fertilization requirements.