Selected FCS Extension Program Impacts from 2010
- Extension Is Making Ohioans Money Smart
- Reaching Thousands with Food and Nutrition Information: ‘Extension Is Everywhere'
- Cash-Strapped Ohioans Are Breathing Easier with New Community Resource Tool
- Columbus Neighborhood Is Just One Example of OSU Extension's Urban Impact
Gene and Tracy Mays always emphasized the importance of saving money; and by the time son Jelani was in fourth grade, Gene had given his son a spare check register to keep track of the money in his piggy bank. "But he didn't grasp prioritizing, separating needs from wants," Mays said. Mays saw the light bulb go on for Jelani and other eighth-graders at North College Hill Junior High when Gene volunteered for Real Money, Real World. The Ohio State University Extension program offers basic personal finance lessons, highlighted by a simulation in which students, pretending they are 25 years old, must use an assigned income to pay for housing, transportation, groceries, and other expenses at booths staffed by community volunteers. The event had an impact. "I tried to trim costs in entertainment and transportation," Jelani said. But he ended up at the banker's booth, needing a loan. Now, he says, "I feel that if I want something but I don't have the money, then it's not really meant for me to have it."
OSU Extension coordinates Ohio Saves, a partner of Ohio's "Save Now" program, promoting savings and wealth accumulation. Between March and August 2010, 784 Ohio Savers made deposits totaling $736,740. In addition, more than 15,000 Ohioans are enrolled in local Saves programs in Cleveland, Columbus, and Hancock County.
OSU Extension's financial education programs also include:
- New Start for Financial Success, a financial education class for those going through bankruptcy. Classes, offered in 49 counties, are designed to meet court requirements.
- Master Money Mentors, in which OSU Extension trains volunteers to pair up with those who want some one-on-one assistance to get a handle on their finances.
- Teaching Smart Money Choices programs throughout the state, in partnership with the Ohio Treasurer's office.
- Housing Counseling Services, targeted to underserved, high-foreclosure rural areas in Ohio. In 2010, 12 OSU Extension personnel were approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer such services.
"After I took the nutrition class, I started keeping track of what I was eating. I lost 20 pounds, and I have been able to maintain that. My doctor said, ‘You made my day…keep doing whatever you are doing.' Now I'm looking at the next 20 pounds." -Helen Ott of Coshocton, who participated in OSU Extension's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
68,127 | The number of participants in the Family Nutrition Program, with 86% reporting healthy changes Christine Walters wondered what her daughter was doing in the bathroom for so long before dinner one evening. She was amazed at what she saw: Trinity, 6, was meticulously washing her hands. "She told me, you have to wash between your fingers, get your fingernails, and up to your arms," Walters says. Trinity is also drinking more milk. "And she lets me know about it if we don't have vegetables on the table," Walters says. "She points at the food: ‘This is healthy, this is not healthy.'" Trinity took to heart Ohio State University Extension's Family Nutrition Program lessons at the 2010 Wayne County Summer Food Service program. "She learned quite a lot," Walters says—and she should know. Walters herself picked up tips when she sat in with her own mother at nutrition lessons OSU Extension presented at Creston Station senior apartment complex, and at a healthy living class OSU Extension offered at the free clinic. "OSU Extension is everywhere," Walters says.
The Family Nutrition Program is offered in 66 counties. In fiscal year 2009, it offered 8,516 programs to 68,127 participants; 86% reported they planned to make healthy changes as a result.
OSU Extension offers a wide variety of nutrition programs and information:
- The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program series is offered in 17 counties, reaching 5,946 adults (46% African American, 11% Latino) and 10,611 youth (49% African American, 9% Latino) in fiscal year 2009; 84% of adult participants improved in one or more nutrition practices during the course.
- Dining with Diabetes, a three-lesson class co-taught by Extension educators and local dietitians or certified diabetes educators, is offered across Ohio, reaching 5,125 individuals between July 2008 and June 2010; 93% learned how to manage their diabetes, 90% gained food safety skills, and 75% reported eating smaller portion sizes and knowing how to count carbohydrates.
- A childhood obesity program, "Choose It! Use It," developed by OSU Extension in late 2010, is offered in schools, YMCAs, and after-school programs. A special feature: motivational videos featuring Buckeye athletes and former NFL player Shawn Harper.
"I've seen how much 5 County Solutions has changed Dorena's life, and I plan to use the resource tool for my next group of incoming Habitat for Humanity families." -Mary Jane West, vice president, customer relations, National Bank & Trust
Dorena Scott is much happier these days. She's settled into her first home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity, and she has the financial know-how to manage her assets, thanks to Ohio State University Extension. The Clinton County resident turned to 5 County Solutions for resources on saving, budgeting, and credit card management. Since 2008, the one-stop shop resource tool has been helping ease the fear and stress of financial hardship by bringing local, state, and federal assistance directly to those who need it. "It has changed my life. I don't know what I would have done without those resources," said Scott, who works at Thad Hollon Trucking. "A pop here. Coffee there. You throw away more money than you realize, and when you are living paycheck to paycheck, every little bit matters." Scott's son, Cameron, is also catching the savings bug. "He's learning that when you throw away pennies, you are throwing away dollars, because it all adds up," said Scott.
- Clinton Metropolitan Housing Authority refers clientele to the web site to help them make wise financial decisions with limited resources.
- When County Commissioner Randy Riley decided that Clinton County needed a 211 service—a system that points users to essential human services—OSU Extension shared the 5 County Solutions database, which led to the development of a complete directory of community resources for the county.
- Health departments in surrounding counties use 5 County Solutions to provide clientele with recipes for healthy, economical meals.
"I think what OSU Extension has brought to my neighbors, and to my neighborhood, is hope—something that people didn't have before." Joyce Hughes, president, Weinland Park Community Civic Association-
High Street in Columbus used to be a great divide, with The Ohio State University on the west side and the Weinland Park area on the east; and rarely the twain did meet. Today, these neighbors are working together through OSU Extension's University District office to help residents get computer training, find jobs, earn their GED, do their taxes, manage their money, and learn about going to college. Because of OSU Extension's Susan Colbert, who heads the office, and her partnerships with Ohio State faculty and students and Weinland Park leaders, residents have gained 25 jobs with benefits through office-sponsored job fairs and some $2.3 million in additional tax credits through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. They now see a brighter future. "We're not only bridging the digital divide," says Colbert of the office, "we're bridging the social, economic, and educational divide as well."
- In Cleveland, OSU Extension gives expert assistance to more than 200 community gardens on 60 acres, which together produce more than $3 million worth of fresh food for residents.