The Williams County 4-H program partners with local school districts to conduct the Real Money. Real World. financial literacy program. By introducing students to the topics of career choices, income, tax rates, and financial budgeting, students develop a better understanding of their future family life. They also develop a better understanding of how their career choices can impact their spending habits and family well-being. Community professionals volunteer their time to work with the students as they make financial lifestyle choices at 14 different stations that illustrate the costs of living expenses such as transportation, child care, and housing. More than 90 percent of the students completing the program reported that they felt the program will help them in the future; 80 percent of these students reported that they had a better understanding of differences between needs and wants.
Research suggests that youth have seven developmental needs that must be met to help them develop into thriving adults: physical activity, competence and achievement, self-definition, creative self-expression, positive social interactions, structure and clear limits, and meaningful participation. The Williams County 4-H camping program provides youth ages 5-19 the opportunity to fulfill all of these needs. Youth learn more about themselves and their surroundings while experiencing an independent living environment. Youth practice life skills such as decision making, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork while exploring new ideas and activities. In 2016, 193 youth participated in at least one 4-H camping experience.
Agricultural sustainability promotes the stewardship of natural resources, the sustainability of farms, and quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. Healthy soils become part of that stewardship and can be defined as the continued capacity of soils to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. The healthy soils philosophy states that soils are alive with insects, microbes and, with proper management, can provide sustainability. This is a change of philosophy in the farm community. In the past, farmers used tillage and fertilizer to provide a growing medium for plants.
My goal is to work with area farmers, presenting research-based information on the benefits of growing cover crops. Establishing the benefits of cover crops in a cash crop rotation can help improve soil structure, water holding capacity, increase soil organic matter, suppression of weeds, and control soil erosion.
In collaborated with another regional Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension educator, Williams County farmers learned management skills in using cover crops and livestock manure as a way of improving healthy soils. In a post-meeting survey, 85 percent of attendees indicated the information would be helpful as they make adjustments to their farm management.
The Williams County 4-H program depends on the volunteer services of 132 volunteers to make the program run efficiently. Volunteer roles include club adviser, advisory committee member, and/or program key leader. In these roles, adults have a chance to make a positive impact on the youth enrolled in the Williams County 4-H program. They receive annual training to help them better understand their volunteer roles and to help them become stronger teachers and leaders for the youth of Williams County. In 2016, local volunteers donated approximately 5,280 hours valued at $116,476.80.
The Western Lake Erie Drainage Basin drains more than 7 million acres into Lake Erie which provides drinking water to more than 11 million people. When an algal bloom occurs a toxin is produced making the drinking water unfit for human consumption. This results in increased concerns throughout the community and a need to identify the algae and cause. Phosphorous is the link to the algal bloom and is also one of the main plant nutrients needed in crop production. Agriculture production encompasses more than 70 percent of the land use, which identifies agriculture as a nonpoint source. Agronomic research has shown applying phosphorous fertilizer higher then production requirements, and surface applying can lead to run-off problems.
My goal is to present information to the agriculture community on ways to reduce phosphorous run-off. Producers are encouraged to collect soil samples to determine the correct amount needed and use that in developing a Nutrient Management Plan based on Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations. This plan can then be used along with appropriate timing when applying phosphorous fertilizers to protect the environment and still be a sustainable business.
With the support of Ohio Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension, I presented several fertilizer application certification trainings to the farm community. A post-training survey determined that 52 percent of the participants agree that farm phosphorous loss is a significant problem to our water resources, and 56 percent agree to review soil test and phosphorous recommendations and make changes.