Recipients of the USDA program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) learn how to select vegetables and fruits, whole grain and low-fat dairy products to improve a healthy diet and to decrease the risk of obesity. The instruction uses the USDA MyPlate configuration as a guideline. The SNAP-Ed program assistant is mindful of the fact that the population served by SNAP-Ed has limited resources for purchasing and preparing food for their families. This nutrition education program helps participants learn to make healthy food choices, to add physical activity and to stretch available food dollars. In 2016, nearly 100 Wyandot County citizens increased their food and choice-making knowledge, by participating in SNAP-Ed classes. Participants ranged from kindergarten and elementary students to adults. Elementary teachers have welcomed the SNAP-Ed instruction, citing increased curiosity and conversation about healthy food choices among their students.
In 2016, one of the Wyandot County 4-H clubs undertook a group project: Growing Your Own Vegetables. The site for the group project was the community garden, managed by the Wyandot County Health Department. 4-H members learned gardening skills and knowledge and the adults who guided them gained skill and satisfaction in the growth of the young gardeners. The 4-H club donated and delivered fresh vegetables to a local food pantry on three separate occasions. This act of service enhanced the social awareness of 4-H members.
During the year, 381 students learned basic, age-appropriate money skills through participation in Real Money. Real World., a program provided by Extension educators and adult volunteers. Attendees included 60 eighth-grade students; while 321 were students in kindergarten through fifth grade. These students are now better equipped to make wiser money choices, leading to healthier finances for individuals and families. Introduction of basic money and financial concepts earlier in life lays the foundation for better financial choices later. Nearly 90 percent of the eighth-grade students who experienced the Real Money. Real World. classroom sessions and simulation indicated that they “did not realize how much real-life items cost” and “how quickly one (or a family) can run out of money.” An increase in dollars earned by increased understanding of the value of additional education, an increase in dollars saved through increased understanding of credit and interest rates, a reduction of dollars wasted through increased value placed on long-term financial planning – all of these yield a more financially aware and healthy population and a significantly positive economic impact.
In 2016, 26 teen leaders were selected to serve as Wyandot County 4-H camp counselors and in preparation for that job opportunity, participated in the camp counselor education program. Selection, training and evaluation were delivered by the Extension educator and adult volunteers, and emphasis was placed on counselor responsibility to consider the position as formal employment. The teens who were selected completed a minimum of 24 hours of formal training in the areas of child development, behavior management, effective teaching and building leadership and teamwork skills. Counselors also got practical experience in planning and leading camp sessions, supervising younger campers, handling emergencies and dealing with stressful situations. One counselor, new to the position in 2016, borrowed from the military in observing “It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.”
In collaboration with the 4-H educators from the Erie Basin EERA, a card deck called “Stack Your Deck” was developed for use in classroom or 4-H club settings. The subject of the card deck was developing basic workforce skills. Some tasks included in the deck: learning the handshake, telephone etiquette, making introductions and appropriate use of social media. It is anticipated that increased use of this content and format will yield improvement in these basic workforce skills, valued by employers.
Wyandot County’s 104 registered adult volunteers working within 23 local 4-H clubs and three standing 4-H committees accounted for more than 18,720 hours of service at an estimated value of $374,400. This service, dedicated to the youth 4-H members of Wyandot County 4-H clubs, provided instruction, guidance and encouragement to 690 young people enrolled in the Wyandot County 4-H program through project work, group activities and leadership opportunities. One member shared this: “4-H helped me develop the discipline and confidence to succeed in my college career and to eventually choose what will be my life’s work.”
The Wyandot County 4-H Endowment Committee raises funds to provide scholarships for both post-secondary academic and career study as well as for 4-H programming. In 2016, $7,950 was awarded to 12 Wyandot County 4-H members. To date, the committee has awarded nearly $102,000 to 264 4-H members, who have leveraged these monies to advance their academic, social, career and personal development. These scholarship awards have helped grow, to a nearly inestimable value, our most priceless resource – our young citizens.
4-H camp on Kelleys Island is certainly fun, but it also helps 102 campers, ages 8-13, build essential life skills. 4-H camp activities teach communication, teamwork, and leadership while living in community. For the 26 teen counselors, who experienced nearly 30 total hours of instruction and team-building, led by OSU Extension staff and 12 adult volunteers, 4-H camp teaches both leadership and essential job readiness skills, highly sought by employers. When these teen counselors served Thanksgiving dinner to the residents and guests of a local skilled nursing facility, their work came full circle, to include the important aspect of service.
4-H CARTEENS is a teen driving safety program provided through a partnership of OSU Extension, Wyandot County juvenile court and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. In 2016, more than 120 first-time juvenile traffic offenders learned critical safety information: seat belt safety, the dangers of speeding, Ohio traffic laws, and how to avoid distracted driving. Utilizing a peer-to-peer model, teen presenters provided instruction and guidance through interactive and hands-on activities. Also in 2016, the biannual Docu-Drama was presented. Nearly 260 local high school juniors and seniors experienced this simulated car crash safety program, delivered just before prom season. The collaboration of the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Wyandot Memorial Hospital and LifeFlight, local fire and EMS units, police departments and funeral homes provided an estimated value in equipment and human capital of nearly $100,000. These resources have been willingly given to create future economic savings by reducing teen-involved auto crashes, but primarily to protect and preserve the health and safety of our young people.
OSU Extension educators instructed more than 120 landowners and others employed in agricultural production in the procedures and product knowledge required for recertification in pesticide application and in the new rules and regulations for the Ohio fertilizer certification program. These adults now have both knowledge and resources to apply fertilizer and pesticides properly which will make a significant impact on the soil and water quality in the region, while maximizing agricultural yields and efficiency. Local ag businesses partnered with OSU Extension in sponsoring the event.
Wyandot County youth taking livestock production projects learned specific environmental impacts of their production practices during quality assurance training. These 289 young people are now equipped to be better stewards of the available land, water and air resources, to impact positively the quality of those resources as well as the economic bottom line of their own livestock production efforts.
Citizens of Wyandot County utilize information via the Ohioline website as well as the Ask the Expert function on the OSU Extension website. The efficiency of access to this research-based information has assisted many backyard gardeners, homeowners and farmers to obtain answers in a very timely and professional manner. Many county visitors to the OSU Extension office have expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the "shared wealth" of university knowledge.