According to the CDC, 15 percent of adolescents are overweight in Ohio. In an effort to help youth make healthier decisions, 118 youth in Van Wert County 4-H participated in the 4th H for Health program, a part of the healthy kids out-of-school program. The program encouraged clubs and their members to drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, move more during meetings, and snack smart on fruits and vegetables instead of processed snacks (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/pdf/ohio-state-profile.pdf).
Recipients of the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) learn how to stretch their food dollars and create balanced meals through classes offered by OSU Extension. The program assistants offer interactive classes on balanced meals and food shopping guided by MyPlate, emphasizing making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, making half of your grain choices whole grains, making dairy choices low-fat or fat-free, and getting a variety of protein sources including plant-based ones. The Van Wert County SNAP-Ed program assistant provided education programs to 1961 participants directly through a series of classes, including 621 adults, 25 teens, and 1315 youth participants. According to data collected from participants, there was an increase in the number of participants who used MyPlate and food labels to make healthy choices ate fruits and vegetables daily, chose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, chose whole grains, chose lean and plant-based proteins, and made other healthy changes based on the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines.
Through Extension-led teaching, 24 camp counselors were trained for their position as a residential camp counselor. They were trained for a total of 24 hours in the following areas: child development, communication, cultural awareness, risk management, personal commitment, program planning, self-direction, teaching teamwork, problem-solving, and professionalism.
The Van Wert City Revolving Loan Fund managed by the OSU Extension community development program coordinator loaned more than $274,000 to new businesses and one expanding business. The loans helped in the purchasing of buildings and equipment, some minor interior remodeling, and working capital expenses.
As a result of Extension 4-H youth development, 119 youth participated in residential camping and 93 participated in day camping, learning life skills, building independence, and making new friends.
OSU Extension – Van Wert County provides agricultural resource expertise to boost farm productivity. The boost in farm productive comes from providing assistance and guidance in farm management topics include developing farm leases, negotiating cash rents, enterprise analysis and budgeting. Agronomic issues include pesticide training and recertification for 110 persons, planting recommendations, weed, disease and insect identification and management recommendations, and soil test interpretation and fertilizer recommendations. Fertilizer certification training was provided to 115 agricultural producers in response to Ohio’s water quality concerns.
Hundreds of local requests in consumer horticulture were responded to this year in areas of insect, disease and weed identification and management, turf management, arboriculture, floriculture and pest mitigation. Common requests in Van Wert County include vegetable disease identifications, planting fruit trees and seasonal care, household insect and spider identification and eradication, and reasons for tree decline and death. Special meetings on gardening for pollinators, insects, and mushroom identification were provided to Wren Garden Club, Evergreen Garden Club, and The Children's Program at the Van Wert County Children's Garden provided by the Van Wert Master Gardener Volunteers. In addition, OSU Extension – Van Wert County conducts many on-farm and residential visits to help horticultural producers and home owners resolve crisis situations relative to plant disease, spray drift and insect control.
Agronomic research has had a significant public return on investment. Crop and livestock research coupled with Extension education has generated greater than a 40 percent rate of return on investment. Agronomic studies carried out in Van Wert County in 2016 included the following: Western Bean Cutworm Survey; Wheat Headscab Disease Survey; and data collection on the impact of Western Corn Rootworm (WCR) on corn production after the introduction of rootworm resistant corn hybrids. A summer ANR student assistant was hired to help with conducting the field surveys and research. Her position was supported with a $5000 grant from the Van Wert County Foundation. In total, the agriculture research and surveys were supported by grants totaling $14,500 to cover costs of the projects.
Through a partnership with Van Wert Middle School known as 4-H After-school, 10 middle school youth have learned about where food is produced, popular food products in Ohio, and how soybeans and wheat are harvested and processed into food products.
Through Extension-led training, 78 volunteers were certified in child abuse policy, taught to identify the four types of child abuse, and how to report it properly. Training volunteers on this information led to better understanding in the community for signs and symptoms, frequency of issues at the county and state level, and an awareness of the many different kinds of abuse.
672 youth received agriculture and natural resource training from the ANR educator in two educational programs: More Than Just Cows and Plows; and Natural Resources Fourth Grade Field Day. These educational programs met STEM requirements and introduced new subject matter to youth that they would not get from other resources.
The Van Wert County fair is the largest event for 4-H members to exhibit their projects. The positive relationships among the county commissioners, Van Wert County Agriculture Society, OSU Extension, 4-H volunteers and parents brings the community together for a six days of social activity and community well-being.
The Van Wert County Master Gardener Volunteers and the Van Wert County Performing Arts Center jointly sponsored "Van Wert Blooms" with keynote speaker P. Allen Smith, the television host, designer, gardening and lifestyle expert plus several additional speakers. More than 620 garden enthusiasts attended the day-long program. The program generated funds to support the Children's Garden in Van Wert County and well as bringing an influx of income to a number of local businesses. This program was one of the most successful offered by the Performing Arts Center since its opening in 2010.
As a result of Extension-led quality assurance training, 223 livestock youth participated in a session on good environmental stewardship, focusing on how to protect water, air, and land in relation to raising livestock. Specifically they learned best practices for manure management, and considerations to have when removing manure from their farm location.