Cooking Matters, is a hands-on cooking class for low-income families where participants learn cooking on a budget, food selection, and food preparation. This year, 18 residents graduated from two six-week programs. A class graduate stated, “You have helped me strive to eat healthier for myself and my kids.” Another graduate stated she lost seven pounds by eating healthier during the class series.
Recipients of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), learn how to select fruits and vegetables, whole grain and low-fat dairy products for a healthy diet and to decrease risk of obesity, using the USDA’a MyPlate as a guideline. A main factor that sets SNAP-Ed apart from a typical nutrition class is that the curriculum used to teach classes are mindful that the population served have limited resources to plan, purchase and prepare food for their families. The SNAP-Ed program helps participants learn to make healthy food choices, balance a healthy diet while getting physical activity, and also teaches them to stretch their food dollars.
In the past year, the SNAP-Ed program has had the opportunity to reach out into the Richland County community and provided programming through series of classes with not only youth many adults and elderly as well. The Program provides nutrition education to numerous facilities in the county including food pantries, preschools, schools, after-school programs, low-income buildings, city parks, Jobs and Family Services, and many other facilities. Participants not only learn simple skills to make small healthier changes at home, but are willing to learn. Many participants share that they are “never too old to learn.” Elementary school teachers share that after having the SNAP-Ed programming in their classes they see “more kids are trying vegetables at lunchtime.” They also notice them sharing with each other what foods groups they are having for lunch.
The county’s 133 certified volunteers working within 42 local 4-H clubs accounted for more than 30,723 hours of service at an estimated value of $677,749 that led to the personal development of the county’s 2,243 4-H community club members and/or youth participants. This investment decreases the number of kids that are at risk of getting into trouble, provides a base for workforce development and creates a positive resource for the community. One volunteer stated, “4-H builds character and sense of responsibility in kids. They don’t get these opportunities elsewhere. It’s worth my time to help make a difference.” An older 4-H member commented, “4-H is giving me what I need to get a good job and raise my family in the future.”
The Richland County 4-H CARTEENS program taught 258 first-time juvenile traffic offenders critical safety information. This peer-to-peer model program enhances the offenders’ self-esteem and attitudes, plus focuses on distracted driving, seat belt safety, impaired driving, Ohio traffic laws, and speeding with the end result being reduced repeat teen traffic offenders. The mock crash safety docu-drama (held for 709 students from seven high schools in 2016) has reached 41,082 students since its inception in 1990. With the estimate that each vehicular crash costs millions of dollars, preventing teen involved crashes creates a significant economic savings in addition to protecting the health and safety of our youth.
4-H camp is fun, but the 4-H camp experience also helps build critical life skills for both campers and teen counselors, plus contributes to their social and physical development. 4-H camp-related experiences teach teamwork, communication and leadership, and develop the job readiness skills employers look for while giving campers a chance to connect to nature. The leadership skills practiced by 15 teen 4-H camp counselors were transformed into high-quality, work-based learning experiences as they guided residential- and day-camp experiences for 124 youth ages 5-15 years.
Research shows that youth who volunteer just one hour per week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or engage in destructive behavior. Teen leaders involved as Junior Fair Board members, camp counselors, Junior Leaders and CARTEENS instructors provided more than 5,430 hours of volunteer service to our county valued at $43,983 (based on student minimum wage of $8.10 per hour). The benefit of preventing destructive behavior by youth to the community is much greater.
More than 400 youth and adults learned skills in organizational development, officer education and practice, committee leadership, parliamentary procedure, club management, personal development, public speaking, and decision-making skills to enhance and strengthen the leadership of their local club and county programs. A 12-year-old 4-H member stated, “Without 4-H, I would not have the skills I need to be a successful adult someday.”
Food pantries don’t always offer the healthiest choice of food, which is especially challenging for individuals who have dietary needs related to chronic health conditions such as diabetes. OSU Extension, in a partnership with the Communities Preventing Chronic Disease grant and the Richland County Health Department, trained 9 volunteers representing six food pantries to implement the Rainbow of Colors of Choice Food Pantry Model, enabling consumers of the pantry to choose healthy foods that align with MyPlate dietary guidelines. Specifically, volunteers were trained on pantry organization, how to promote nutrition and healthy choices, how to address chronic diseases like diabetes, and how to implement healthy food drives. As a result of the training volunteers were more confident in their abilities to implement the model, promote nutrition and healthy choices, address chronic diseases, and procure healthier foods.
The Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Program is a cooperative effort between the Mansfield Park District, environmental specialists and OSU Extension. The program trains volunteers in the areas of interpretation, plants, watersheds, aquatic life, stewardship, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians, forests, soils, mammals, geology and ecological concepts. natural resources. The volunteer naturalist graduates are involved in the community with 40+ hours of service via teaching seminars and/or volunteering in a support role at a variety of local natural resources venues.
Master Gardener Volunteers trained by OSU Extension are active in a variety of educational and service projects throughout Richland County. These volunteers share research-based information with gardeners through workshops, programs at Kingwood Center and Malabar Farm Days, Raising Richland (garden summit), community gardens, newsletters, speaker’s bureaus and one-on-one consultations. MGVs contributed more than 5,540 hours teaching about vegetable and fruit plants/trees, lawn care, plant and disease identification, insects and other pests, emerald ash borer, and many other horticultural topics with an economic value of $122,212 to the Richland County community.
OSU Extension educators conducted pesticide applicator re-certification and fertilizer applicator certification training to help more than 100 adults to learn new information and update current knowledge on pesticides. Participants also adults learned current Ohio Department of Agriculture regulations and how to increase profitability in the workplace.
OSU Extension assists more than 650 youth taking livestock projects in learning responsibility, caring for others, increasing knowledge on proper animal care and raising a quality product by participating in quality assurance training, livestock clinics and livestock interview judging. The members’ successful care of livestock resulted in more than $500,000 worth of economic advancement at the Livestock Auction at the county fair.
OSU Extension provides critical information to citizens via the Ohioline website, fact sheets and one-on-one consultations. Use of this research-based information helps farmers, homeowners, backyard gardeners and those involved in agriculture or agriculture-type hobbies to keep abreast of the latest technology and production practices.