Portage County (2016)

2016 County Highlights
Portage County

705 Oakwood St., Suite 103 Ravenna, OH 44266

Phone: 330-296-6432
David Crawford
Health and Wellness

A total of 582 family members were impacted by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). The 86 adult graduates significantly increased knowledge and improved behaviors in diet quality (93 percent), food resource management (72 percent) saving $6,134.33, and food safety (43 percent). This resulted in Portage County residents making healthier choices.

Obesity, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity disproportionately affect minority and low-income citizens. Of the estimated 163,419 residents living in Portage County, 19 percent of families with children lived in poverty. In an effort to reduce this disparity and improve the health and well-being of Ohioans, EFNEP teaches an eight-lesson nutrition education series to low-income families with children. EFNEP, funded by USDA-NIFA, contributed $30,000 this year to Portage County, funding .80 FTE staff in the OSU Extension office.

An EFNEP success story: A single dad enrolled in EFNEP while in recovery held at 90-day treatment facility for men. The 34-year-old male told the program assistant on graduation day that when he first came to class he was in a bad place and didn't want to be there, “I am only here because I have to be." The program assistant was encouraging and told him, “It’s ok if you don't want to be here, but I guarantee you will learn from classes and have fun.” The single dad attended all eight EFNEP classes. He graduated and stated he did learn a lot from these classes. He said, "I am always looking at food labels now that I know what to look for. I also don't thaw food on the counter anymore. I had no idea about the bacteria." The participant was thanked and praised for his weekly growth. He was so confident in his food prep skills and happy that his family was trying new things.

Job Skills and Careers

Portage County received a grant to collaborate with the local Bio-Med Science Academy to teach National 4-H Science Day curriculum, Motion Commotion, to local school groups. This program teaches Newton’s laws of motion and the impacts of distraction. Eight older youth and two adult 4-H leaders taught more than 570 students from four different schools to promote 4-H STEM activities.

This year, 10 teens served as 4-H camp counselors, completing a comprehensive 4-H camp counselor training program with 10 Mahoning County counselors. They completed 24 hours of training on program planning, working with youth, risk management, emergency procedures, and first aid.

More than 1,716 4-H members developed valuable life skills by completing more than 2,520 4-H projects. The 4-H program utilizes more than 170 volunteers across 46 clubs and 15 committees to carry out the mission and vision of Ohio 4-H. During the life of a project, a member must identify his or her interests, meet enrollment deadlines, research the project, and perform a variety of project-related tasks (e.g., recordkeeping, decision making, public presentations, and judging preparation). 4-H members are involved in every level of preparation including decisions about which animal to take, how to care for and raise a healthy animal, tracking business expenses and health records, working with the animal daily to train the animal for showmanship, and understanding the life cycle of an animal from birth through sales. These tasks translate into life skills such as decision making, problem-solving, purchasing and fiscal management, recordkeeping, time management, teamwork, being responsible, leadership, showmanship, and public speaking.

Thriving Across the Life Span

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided 133 hours of food and nutrition education impacting 582 family members, whose ages range from birth to plus 60 years of age. Classes were comprised of 61 percent female and 39 percent male participants.

Portage County 4-H provided 30 $100 camp scholarships for 4-H members to attend camp. This was supported through the advisory and benefit committees, and the Aeschilmen family.

This year, 32 campers from Portage County participated in 4-H camp, and 74 campers participated in the Portage and Mahoning counties’ week at Camp Whitewood, with 24 counselors and volunteer staff. This seven-day camp provided youth with activities to develop leadership skills, team-building, interpersonal skills, and lasting friendships.

Also, 12 Cloverbuds participated at Camp Whitewood for Cloverbud day camp. The youth experienced camp by swimming, hiking, making crafts, and spending outdoor time with other youth their age.

Led by more than 20 certified volunteers, more than 320 youth completed quality assurance training, an ODA requirement for the county junior fair participation in market and lactating project areas. This program enabled 4-H and FFA members to participate in the 2016 junior fair livestock auction and gain knowledge on animal well-being. The money earned by youth was then reinvested locally by Portage County 4-H and FFA members.

In addition, 24 4-H members and 23 volunteers learned valuable leadership and youth development skills by participating in the annual Ohio 4-H Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Three classrooms (more than 70 youth) participated in the 4-H ChickQuest (embryology) program. Each classroom was provided with incubators, curriculum support materials, and starter feed. OSU Extension – Portage County, in cooperation with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, sourced the fertilized eggs and connected local producers with the schools.

Environmental Quality

Trained and certified by OSU Extension – Portage County, Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) share research-based information with all types of gardeners through workshops, community gardens, and one-on-one consultations. MGVs also provide the Garden Information Hotline, delivering more than 200 hours of service. In 2016, MGVs assisted with phone calls, emails, and walk-ins with a wide variety of home horticulture questions. They renewed 50 active volunteers, and had eight new Master Gardener Volunteer interns work toward graduation. Master Gardener Volunteers contributed 2,065 volunteer hours, estimated at a value more than $48,663, while providing educational opportunities to Portage County residents. MGVs received more than 635 hours of advanced horticultural training to utilize in their outreach efforts. They drove more than 12,121 miles to provide educational program opportunities.

Portage County receives $12,504 in federal funding for nutrition education for low-income people, thanks to Extension’s local-state-federal partnership. Visit fcs.osu.edu/programs/nutrition for more information.