The weather was cool and the day filled with excitement. On April 21st 4-H students from Pleasant Hill Academy participated in their first Global Youth Service Day. The project was designed to benefit the local community garden used by the College Hill Gardeners and the school. The audacious project involved over 200 students which culminated in the building of an octagon shaped garden bed and the planting of a bean tepee.

The preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students helped weed the water the garden space in preparation for the spring. The second and third-grade students helped plant seeds and plants in the raised garden beds. Then the fourth, fifth and sixth graders helped cut, design and build an octagon shaped bed to stand as a centerpiece of the garden.

The students at Pleasant Hill Academy, a Cincinnati Public School, are part of an environmental science program which lends itself well to the 4-H projects. Throughout the year, as a part of their typical curriculum, students learn about the natural world.

The project was sponsored by Serve Ohio as part of their initiative to engage more youth in Global Youth Service Day.

It was a pleasure to work with the students as they learned how to (under supervision) use a saw to cut wood and calculate the angles for the octagon bed.

In cooperation with the school, students also planted 7 commemorative trees on the property and engaged in a series of earth related activities designed to provide the students with a stronger connection to the natural world. Students were also given trees to take home and plant on their own.

4-H Agri-Science in the City is looking forward to working on more projects like this with the youth.

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Test your Knowledge

4-H Agri-Science in the City Youth are often asked to provide feedback about what they have learned and if what they have learned has helped them develop a stronger understanding of age appropriate scientific concepts.

In an effort to streamline that process and connect environmental science to the mediums that are familiar to your youth, 4-H and environmental educators are working together to build a treasure trunk of resources to support youth.

Here is one of the first engagement tools. The online quiz is set up like a trivia game that youth can play independently or teachers can use in a classroom setting.  Check it out, give it a try and provide feedback below.


Special Thanks to our contributors:

Mary Dudley of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati

Rebecca Supinger of OSU Extension, Greene County and

The Teachers at Pleaseant Hill Academy.

Laughter Erupted

By: Tony Staubach, Program Manager, 4-H Youth Development

Laughter and joy erupted at Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill on Wednesday as the 6th grade launched rockets and the 4th grade experimented with a banana piano.

Since September youth in 4th, 5th and 6th grade at Pleasant Hill have participated in 4-H Agri-Science in the City as an integrated part of their school day.

For several weeks, the 6th grade students have been working with 4-H Agri-Science in the City Program Manager, Tony Staubach to learn about force and motion in anticipation for their rocket launch.  The students were tasked with designing, building and evaluating the success of their rockets, which were constructed out of used 2-liter bottles, duct-tape and cardboard.

The 4-H excitement continued throughout the day as the 4th grade students began learning about electric circuits by creating a banana piano. The students were initially puzzled by the engagement exercise but became fast experts on electrical conductivity as well as the role insulators in an electric circuit.

Although 4-H Agri-Science in the City is new addition to Pleasant Hill Academy, the teachers and students have taken to the program like fish take to water. Pleasant Hill was designated the first Environmental Science School as part of the Cincinnati Public Schools Vision 2020 initiative.

Although the rocket launch is over, there is still a lot of excitement around the corner.  In April students at Pleasant Hill Academy, in addition to Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Silverton Paideia, will hatch chicken eggs as part of the annual Chick Quest program. Hatched chicks will stay at the school for one week before finding homes with local growers.

Since 1902 youth in communities both urban and rural have joined the 4-H positive youth development program to engage in project based learning and leadership development. 4-H Agri-Science in the City was created in 2014 by Ohio State University Extension, thanks to the support of State Representative Jim Buchy, to help expanded access to food, agriculture and environmental science education to youth in urban communities.





Famous Scientists and Innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for Black History Month

Are you looking for information about famous scientists and innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for Black History Month?  Students from our 4-H Agri-Science in the City clubs learn annually about the impacts made during Black History Month.

Check out just a few of our highlighted leaders.

For the entire presentation click here.

Patricia Bath (November 4, 1942)
Among many firsts, Patricia Bath is the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African-American
female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986.

Prof. Samuel Massie Jr. (July 3, 1919 – April 10, 2005)
An organic chemist who was the first African American to teach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Marie M. Daly (April 16, 1921- October 28, 2003)
Marie M. Daly is best known for being the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.

Philip Emeagwali (born August 23, 1954)
Nigerian-born scientist and inventor known for first using a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.

Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731 – October 9, 1806)
African American astronomer, mathematician and author who constructed America’s first functional clock.

Regina Benjamin (October 26, 1956)
Physician Regina Benjamin worked as the 18th U.S. surgeon general, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975)
African American researcher known for being a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants.

Madam C J Walker (December 23, 1867- May 25, 1919)
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, created specialized hair products for African-American hair and was one of the first American
women to become a self-made millionaire.

Norbert Rillieux (March 17, 1806 – October 8, 1894)
American inventor and engineer, best remembered for his invention of the multiple-effect evaporator.

Charles Drew (June 3, 1904 – April 1, 1950)
American physician, surgeon and medical researcher known as the inventor of the blood bank.

Mae C. Jemison (October 17, 1956)
Mae C. Jemison is the first African-American female astronaut. In 1992, she flew into space aboard the Endeavour, becoming the first
African-American woman in space.

James West (born February 10, 1931)
African-American inventor who developed the “mic” in the 1960s; holds 47 U.S. and more than 200 foreign patents on microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets.

Mary Mahoney (May 7, 1845- January 4, 1926)
Mary Mahoney became the first black woman to complete nurse’s training in 1879.

George Washington Carver (January 1864 – January 5, 1943)
American scientist and inventor and an extraordinary explorer and innovator of agricultural science.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858 – August 4, 1931)
African American physician who performed the first prototype open-heart surgery.

Mary Styles Harris (June 26, 1949)
Distinguished American health researcher Mary Styles Harris has gained national attention for her work and influence on
national health policies.

Garrett Morgan (March 4, 1877 – August 27, 1963)
African American inventor who made both the first traffic signal invention and the first patented gas mask.

Alexa Canady (November 7, 1950)
In 1981, Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States.

Ernest Everett Just (August 14, 1883 – October 27, 1941)
African American biologist and author known for his work on egg fertilization and the structure of the cell.

Emmett Chappelle (born October 25, 1925)
African American scientist and researcher and a recipient of 14 U.S. patents, who discovered that a particular combination of chemicals
caused all living organisms to emit light.

Nia Wordlaw
“My mom came home one day with an article from 1922 about Bessie Coleman. [That] was my first mentor: an article about [the first]
black female pilot,” says Wordlaw, a pilot for United Airlines—one of very few female African- Americans to fly for a major carrier. “It
makes a difference to see someone who looks like you doing something that you want to do.“

For the entire presentation click here.

4-H Agri-Science in the City Showing Good Results at Pleasant Hill Academy

By: Tony Staubach, Program Manager, 4-H Youth Development


Pine Cone

Student shows off pine cones they found in the forest.

Beginning in March, 2014 Cincinnati Public School’s Rothenberg Preparatory Academy participated in the pilot 4-H Agri-Science in the City program with OSU Extension. The pilot was successful in introducing students to Agri-Science and through a partnership with the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden offered a daily enrichment program for all students.


In August, 2016 OSU Extension, 4-H Agri-Science in the City moved their school-based program to Pleasant Hill Academy to come into alignment with Cincinnati Public Schools Vision 2020. Pleasant Hill was identified as the initial Environmental Sciences School. The first few months of the program have been successful in again introducing students to environmental sciences but also to helping them understand their connection to the food system.

It is important to ensure that youth have access to healthy food throughout their day and that they are equipped with the skills necessary to strengthen our food system as they grow older. 4-H Agri-Science in the City works to ensure that youth are empowered and educated to meet the diverse needs that exist in their future.

Food is the third greatest expense for the typical American household. Approximately 13% of the average budget is consumed by food. [1] Consequently, 12.7% of US households are food-insecure, 7.7% of those households classify as having low food security and 5% classify as having very low food security. Ohio ranks above the national average in food insecurity. [2] Families and children struggling with food insecurity often reach out to assistance programs.  This means that 16 million children, or one in five, receive food assistance nationwide.[3] According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 50% of children under 6 and 41% of children 6 or older are classified as low income.[4]

Approximately 280 students from Pleasant Hill have received 75 hours of instruction focused on agriculture and the food system.  With a move to a new school, the 2016-2017 goal for 4-H Agri-Science in the City is to ensure that every student is included in agriculture education in some capacity by the end of the school year.  Additionally, the hope is to maintain the afterschool 4-H Club at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and add two new clubs to the roster, one at Pleasant Hill and one at Silverton Paideia.

Of the students involved, data collected has identified current strengths and areas for continued education.  All students surveyed understood how and why the physical properties of water change and nearly all students were familiar with the seasons and why seasons occur.  However, students continue to need education around the food web and the importance of soil in food production. This data is not shocking because youth in urban environments have often lacked access to agricultural and food system education and continues to identify the need for more programs like 4-H Agri-Science in the City.

Thanks to the generous legislative support of Rep. Jim Buchy, 4-H Agri-Science in the City has been able to provide transformative experiences to all of the students served and looks forward to more success in the future.

To view the full report, click here.


Student showing off a captured insect.

[1] (USDA, 2014)

[2] (Alisha Coleman-Jensen, 2016)

[3] (United States Census Bureau, 2015)

[4] (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2016)


Tower Garden

It’s always exciting when students get to use something new.  This week the afterschool 4-H’ers at Pleasant Hill will be learning how to plant a tower garden.

Lesson Plan for the Activity:


  • To plant a seed and put the seed in the tower garden.
  • For students to be able to explain the benefit of growing plants indoors.


  • Watch the video provided by 4-H.
  • Take the rock wool (1 piece per two students, they’ll need to work in pairs to plant seeds) and put a seed in the hole. You can plant whatever seed you’d like from the packet of seeds provided.
  • Once all of the seeds are planted go ahead and help the students put their seed on the tower garden.
  • Have students return to their seats and get a piece of 8.5×11 paper.
  • On the paper have the students write their name and their grade level.
  • Have them draw (or write) about what seed they planted, why they planted that seed and what they think the tower garden will look like when all of the plants are fully grown.
  • Leave the completed assignments on the front table in the lab.


  • Talk to the students about the needs of plants (sunlight, nutrients, water).
  • Explain that this tower garden doesn’t use soil.
  • Have them come up with ideas about how the plants will grow without soil.

Farm to School Workshop November 10th

Watermelon Seeds

Food is the third greatest expense for the typical American household. Approximately 13% of the average budget is consumed by food. [1] Consequently, 12.7% of US households are food-insecure, 7.7% of those households classify as having low food security and 5% classify as having very low food security. Ohio ranks above the national average in food in-security. [2] Families and children struggling with food in-security often reach out to assistance programs.  This means that 16 million children, or one in five, receive food assistance nationwide.[3] According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 50% of children under 6 and 41% of children 6 or older are classified as low income.[4]

It is important to ensure that youth have access to healthy food throughout their day. The Farm to School movement is an effort that exists to help ensure that all youth have access to healthy food that will help them reach their potential and find future success.  Youth spend much of their time in school so there has become a duty for schools to provide adequate facilities and instruments necessary to meet the social, emotional, educational, nutritional, and psychological needs of the students.

School districts have done amazing work stepping up to the challenges of producing 21st century learners who are ready to take on a plethora of challenges that are yet to be seen or understood.  Ohio State University Extension has been an ally, helping school districts achieve these unforeseen challenges.  Through the SNAP-Ed and EFNEP programs, thousands of youth have received nutrition education annually.  Through the 4-H program thousands of children have experienced the power of self-directed exploration and project based learning.

On November 10, 2016 from 3:00PM-6:00PM, Ohio State University Extension in Hamilton County is holding the Southwest Ohio Farm to School Workshop at Pleasant Hill Academy (1350 North Bend Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45223).  Pleasant Hill is the site of the 4-H Agri-Science in the City program in Cincinnati.  The free event will be filled with opportunities to network, learn about procurement practices, brainstorm and identify opportunities to get involved in the growing Farm to School movement.

For information visit: hamilton.osu.edu.

To register for the event visit: go.osu.edu/SWFARM2SCHOOL

By: Tony Staubach
Program Manager, 4-H Agri-Science in the City
Hamilton County

[1] (USDA, 2014)

[2] (Alisha Coleman-Jensen, 2016)

[3] (United States Census Bureau, 2015)

[4] (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2016)

Appreciation for the Natural World:

Is there value in teaching students to appreciate the world and all of its processes and rhythms?  While a holistic sounding question, the reality is that in many of the future careers that students will seek require an ability to utilize, manage and prepare earth’s resources for human consumption.  From the students who find theirself working in the food system to those who are innovating energy advances, understanding the earth and its processes is essential to future success.

There is great value in having a conversation about the importance of environmental education.  For the sake of this conversation it is important to define two words, environment and education.  Environment in the course of this conversation is expanded to include all of the natural world, the process, the rhythms and the realities that exist in the use, management and extraction of natural resources.  Education is also expanded to include both formal and informal education.  Education can be directed by a state and directed by an individual.

In the case of supporting environmental education and environmental sciences it is important to seek best practices and data that confirms the suspicion that, in fact, environmental education is beneficial the intellectual, social, psychological, physiological and emotional health of students.  There is a lot of data out there that the best way to develop an appreciation for the natural world is to develop strong relationships with friends who care about the environment and to connect youth with agencies that are environmentally focused but data is also beginning to show that “it is not necessary to choose between structured learning and time in nature, if learning is taken into the field and children’s own questions and curiosity are respected”[1]  Through the research from Prati we can reason that the greatest way to encourage students to take an interest in the environment is to increase their time in nature and to help them identify their connections to the natural world.  That doesn’t mean that we have to discount reading and math education, rather we need to integrate environmental science into our educational efforts in a meaningful and engaging way to facilitate a connection between the natural world and our educational directives.

For most educators the major conflict for encouraging environmental education comes from the assessment expectations that are placed on their shoulders.  In most cases, reading and math are the major objectives of the primary and middle childhood educators.  In this situation, to add another expectation may seem inappropriately daunting.  How can it be that teachers are expected to keep adding more to their already busy schedule?  The effort of environmental education in this argument is not to take time away from anything else but rather to integrate environmental sciences and education into current efforts.

As educators the short term goals often dictate the actions in a classroom however, environmental education is a long game. When surveyed, adults who once engaged in meaningful environmental education indicated the life affirming and life changing aspects of their experience.   “For example, Elizabeth, who became an architect… believed that ‘even though I’m not a scientist, I’m not a biologist and not a geologist and I’m not a stream ecologist – those things and those memories helped me be a better and more well-rounded person’ in the sense of being more aware of the surrounding natural world and its significance for all life.”[2]

The argument can be made that youth are significantly impacted by all experiences and that those coordinated experiences often make the largest impact on future decisions.  And, yes, youth are affected by all of the experiences in their lives but, the benefit of environmental education is that “people gained confidence in their ability to act on behalf of the environment, knowing that even small actions could have a positive collective impact.”[3] Knowing that every individuals actions have power and can make collective change can have transformative impacts across communities and our world.  To know that one person has power to do good work, and that collectively those good works multiply and grow, is something that has the potential to lead to innovations, solutions and the appreciation of much more than just the earth.  The appreciation can expand to include our social systems, our employment sectors and our educational institutions.

Perhaps the strongest argument for increased environmental education comes from the fact that the adults, who were former participants in environmental education programs, have a strong sense of “selfauthoring”.  To be labeled as an environmentalist “involves ‘selfauthoring’ oneself as part of this reference group and taking responsibility for some areas of action in this cultural world. Consistent with this theory, participants in all of the study programs recalled inspiring instructors whose behaviors they imitated, feelings of acceptance in this group that they admired, and excitement at being entrusted with responsible tasks.”[4]

There is little that is more powerful that coming to terms with the reality that one can have control over their destiny.  There is little that is more powerful than coming to terms with the reality that one person’s decisions can make a difference and that collectively those decisions can multiply, grow and make a worldwide impact.  Environmental education is something that should be integrated into all of our educational efforts because, no matter what, we all live on earth.

[1] (Gabriele Prati, 2015)

[2] (Gabriele Prati, 2015)

[3] (Gabriele Prati, 2015)

[4] (Gabriele Prati, 2015)

Gabriele Prati, C. A. (2015). The interplay among environmental attitudes, pro-environmental behavior, social identity, and pro-environmental institutional climate. A longitudinal study. Environmental Education Research, 1-16.

Models, Metaphors, Literature and Science

Learning about the earth is not as easy as one might expect.  No matter the age or the location of students, understanding processes, as basic and erosion and deposition, is complicated.  Students seek hands on activities to conceptualize such processes.  Sometimes a teacher can try one hundred activities and students never seem to understand what a teacher is trying to teach but, then one activity makes a mark.

Utilizing curriculum developed by the “National Energy Foundation[1]” students experimented with erosion and deposition by creating their own magma out of sugar, corn syrup and water.  If these ingredients sound familiar, it is because what the students were creating was essentially a peppermint.  The students, under the direction and supervision of an adult helped add the ingredients and brought them to a boil.  After the ingredients reached the appropriate temperature, color was added and students watched in amazement as the thick gooey mixture oozed down a tilted cookie sheet, picking up more food coloring and sprinkles.  The students were finally able to really see, feel, smell and experience erosion like never before.  Once the “magma” cooled the “rock” was broken and the students were able to taste the treat.

But, the lesson didn’t stop there.  Students were asked if the molten concoction was real magma or if it was just a representation.  Most students positively identified the creation as a representation but, for those who seemed a little confused the teacher explained the relevant literary concepts of simile and metaphor.  Coupled with an additional conversation on scientific processes and a discussion about how modeling is often used to demonstrate complex issues, the students were able to demonstrate in future interactions an increased awareness of the earth, a deeper understanding of the scientific systems and a stronger command of important literary elements.

While no one activity can capture the attention of every student, some activities speak loudly to a larger group of students.  Utilizing as many senses as possible will help to ensure that the students are constantly reminded of a lesson that they received.  Additionally, engaging the senses in science education will help students develop deeper questions as they think about how to engage their whole person in their learning.



[1] (National Energy Foundation. (n.d.). Fifth Grade. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from Out of the Rock: http://outoftherock.org/PDF’S/OOTR%20PAGES%20FOR%20SITE/5/EDIBLE_IGNEOUS.pdf)