It’s time again for Cuyahoga River stakeholders, watershed stewards, and anyone else who is interested in the health of the Cuyahoga to get together and learn what’s happening in the Area of Concern (AOC) at the 2018 Cuyahoga River AOC Symposium! The Symposium provides a forum for sharing ideas, reviewing Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) status, showcasing successes and challenges, reviewing recent developments affecting the AOC program and strengthening linkages among state and local AOC participants.
Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC)
Not only will we talk about all the progress that has been made in the Cuyahoga River watershed, but we’ll also hear from a panel of experts on new developments and future projects. There is a lot to celebrate this year, especially given that the United States Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the removal of “Degradation of Aesthetics” and “Public Access and Recreation Impairments” from the list of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC). This suggests that aesthetics have improved dramatically in the decades since the Cuyahoga was named one of the 27 federally-designated U.S. waterways that have experienced severe environmental degradation. Public access and recreation have been helped by the development of trails, rowing clubs, fishing areas, boating and paddle sport amenities, and dining and entertainment facilities that now line the river banks.
Symposium attendees will have an opportunity to discuss all of the work being done to restore the river, to connect with a wide variety of partners and interested stakeholders, and to contribute to the progress being made. The Symposium will take place on Thursday, October 26 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium. Registration is $35 per person and includes coffee, breakfast snacks and lunch, table talks, panels, and a whole lot of updates on how we’re getting closer every day to delisting the entire Cuyahoga River AOC.
Cuyahoga River AOC Advisory Committee
For additional information, please visit the website for the AOC’s facilitating organization, Cuyahoga River Restoration and the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is made up of representatives from Ohio Sea Grant and other organizations including nonprofit community groups, businesses, government agencies, and local residents concerned with the health of the watershed.
Scott Hardy is an Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.
Seniors rely on their caregivers, often building lasting relationships.
If you have an aging loved one — grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, or family friend – living in a senior nursing community or being cared for at home by a home health organization, the people performing the most menial-sounding jobs may be the most important people in their lives. They are the van driver who takes them for a day out to the mall or to the clinic for dialysis; the laundry worker who picks up their dirty clothes every morning and brings them back clean and carefully hung or folded; the activities director who brings music, art and crafts to engage their minds, bodies and hearts; the housekeeper who cleans the floor no matter what mess s/he encounters. They also are the groundskeeper who mows the lawn and manicures the flower beds; the custodian who hangs a new memento on the wall; the hairdresser who keeps them neatly groomed.
My mother spent the final eight years of her life in a nursing facility. That became her permanent home, and almost everyone treated her as if she owned the place. She knew most of the staff by name and would share with me her interactions with them. It became clear after a few months that she only spoke in detail about the employees that I mentioned in the first paragraph. The nurses and aides, of course, were giving her the physical caring she needed to stay healthy, yet the non-clinical staff were the people she told me about. She knew about their marital status and family life, what they did on their non-working time, and their favorite hobbies. Mom didn’t get to know the clinical staff on the same personal level; they had many residents who demanded their expertise, and her interactions with clinical staff were focused on medical needs.
The next time you visit your aging loved one living in a senior community, pay attention to the staff: not only those who are giving the meds or changing bedpans, but also those working behind the scenes to make life more comfortable for the residents.
Alber Enterprise Center has created a new training program for those on the front lines who would like some help understanding the challenges of the elders in their care. The Elder Care Certificate program, designed for anyone who cares for or interacts with older adults, is a wealth of information about issues facing our aging population. This program will transform the way participants work with elders and enhance their status as caring individuals. Participants will gain expertise in dealing with the aging population, will have a better understanding of the challenges seniors face, and will be better equipped with the interpersonal tools to function as contributing members of a caring team. The modules include topics in gerontology, personal effectiveness, communication, problem-solving, and leadership/customer service skills.
The 16-hour pilot program was delivered in 2017, and the 14 participants who were randomly selected to experience the program offered high praise for their experience. One stated, “The thing that touched and inspired us the most is that it changed our attitudes and the way we look at our residents.” Another commented: “What is the #1 thing that I will use in the future? Listening: Making each resident or coworker feel that they are very important and have my undivided attention.”
Alber Enterprise Center is in the process of licensing the curriculum through the university’s Technology Commercialization Office. To assure that the training is delivered to as many workers as possible throughout Ohio, the Center is seeking Extension educators who would like to become certified trainers for this program and offer it in their counties. For more information, contact Anne Johnson.firstname.lastname@example.org or Myra Wilson.email@example.com.
While it may be difficult to comprehend, entertainment consumes a large portion of Americans’ lives.
In 2016, Americans were consuming entertainment media (viewing television, the Internet, mobile apps, etc.) for 10 hours and 39 minutes per day (Koblin, 2016). Therefore, the average American was consuming 306,315.3 hours of entertainment programming in their lifetime (44.3 percent of the average life expectancy calculated at 78.8 years) (Stein, 2016).
How many hours of entertainment have you consumed today?
When you stop to think how many times you have looked at your social media, personal email, or YouTube, it’s not such a stretch to see how many Americans accumulate 10 hours and 39 minutes of entertainment consumption in a day. Internet content is expected to consist of 82 percent of video traffic by 2020, which will also significantly increase the time spent by Americans consuming entertainment yearly (Cisco Visual Networking Index, 2016).
Particularly in the agricultural industry, where less than 2 percent of the nation’s population identifies as a farmer, communication and public relations efforts will rely on messages delivered via entertainment media. Due to the large number of non-farmers in the United States, it is essential for the agricultural industry to utilize transparency in their communication strategies as well as keep up with emerging entertainment trends. Millennials are considered the driving force behind many of the current food trends. They are also the first generation to grow up with the internet, and they desire transparent communications about agriculture and their food (G. Johnson, 2016).
One way to have transparency in communications is the use of virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) seems like it is something out of a futuristic movie, like Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One (2018). However, the future of VR technology is already available and is gaining popularity with educational institutions through the implementation of virtual field trips.
VR is a concept that encompasses several kinds of immersive media that is typically viewed by wearing a headset. The two main components of VR media are 360° videos and augmented reality (AR). The 360° videos are able to provide viewers with an interactive view of the scene. AR is where the viewer has a live view of what is around them, but has additional computer generated (CG) graphics or audio incorporated over the live view.
As a Millennial, a farmer, an agricultural communicator, and an Extension Educator, I love the opportunity to share educational information via videos. I believe one way to have true transparency of video messages is through the use of 360° video. This allows the viewer to have the full picture – there’s nothing cropped or hidden from view. Viewers of 360° videos are able to have a true virtual experience of the scene they are viewing.
I have had the opportunity to use two 360° video cameras to create several videos for upcoming projects. At the Highland County Fair, September 1-8, 2018, I will be demonstrating VR videos. The video shown below is a 360° video highlighting aerial application of fungicide, the Fallsville Wildlife Area waterfall, my cat (Mr. Socks), and the Hillsboro 4th of July Fireworks finale. If you are viewing the video on a computer, use the circular toggle on the upper left corner to change the perspective of the video. If you are using a mobile device, move your phone around to change the view or use your fingers to drag the screen in multiple directions. The best way to view a 360° video is with a VR headset. If you have access to a VR headset, use the split-screen function to view the video for the optimal experience.
Here are some tips for making your own VR videos:
Have a good, stable tripod.
Be close to the action of the scene, as there is currently no zoom function on 360° cameras.
Remember to bring your camera charger if you are planning on a long video shoot.
If you are filming in a windy area, utilize a secondary audio source.
Use SD cards that have large amounts of available space because the file sizes of high definition 360° videos are large.
Allow for more time to edit 360° video content. The GoPro Fusion camera requires two SD cards and needs additional time to render.
If you are interested in viewing more 360° videos, there are an increasing number of 360° videos online. The New York Times has a channel called the Daily 360, National Geographic made the first 360° video in space with the help of astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and Google offers Google Expeditions. You can also find other 360° videos on YouTube.
Individuals attending the Highland County Fair this year will have the opportunity to view a different video with a VR headset. The video shown at the fair will highlight agricultural production and the Highland County community. For more information about 360° video production or when the video will be available at the Highland County Fair, contact Brooke Beam at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 937-393-1918.
Cisco Visual Networking Index. (2016, June 1). White paper: Cisco VNI Forecast and Methodology, 2015-2020. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from Cisco: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual networkingindex-vni/complete-white-paper-c11-481360.html
Johnson, G. (2016a, February). Food Trends: Consumers Want Healthy, Local Foods. Successful Farming.
Koblin, J. (2016b, June 8). Netflix Studied Your Binge-Watching Habit. That Didn’t Take Long. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/09/business/media/netflix-studied-your-bingewatching-habit-it-didnt-take-long.html
Spielberg, S. (2018). Ready Player One [Motion Picture].
Stein, R. (2016, December 8). Life Expectancy in U.S. Drops For First Time In Decades, Report Finds. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/health shots/2016/12/08/504667607/life-expectancy in-u-s-drops-for-first-time-in-decadesreport-finds
In 1982 the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Development program was established by Congress to provide seed capital for research and development through 11 Government Agencies. For profit companies with less than 500 employees that are majority owned by US Citizens or permanent resident aliens are invited to submit proposals for a chance at funding for their innovative idea. Eleven Government Agencies (such as USDA, NSF, and DoD) participate, and each agency handles the grant proposals, review, and selection differently.
For winning proposals, the USDA provides funding of $100,000 for eight (8) months to cover concept development. This is called a Phase I grant. If a company successfully navigates concept development, they may apply for a Phase II grant. If awarded, a Phase II grant supplies up to $600,000 for two more years of concept development. The ultimate goal is commercialization of a new technology or innovation.
Liz and Ann – Founders of Green Heron Tools
One company that at least in part owes its existence to the USDA SBIR program is Green Heron Tools. Based on the premise that garden tools work well for male body structures but not female, two dynamos, Liz Brensinger and Ann Adams, rounded up a team consisting of engineers, farmers and occupational therapists to develop a new concept: ergonomic garden tools for women. In 2008, Green Heron Tools launched.
Both women had full time day jobs and a dream to farm and sell their produce at farmers’ markets and restaurants. One of the women was a nurse and the other a public health educator by trade. They parlayed those skills into a consulting business, writing grants for not-for-profits. In their spare time they farmed a small plot of land in Pennsylvania. The women soon realized that the tools they were using on their small acreage farm were difficult to maneuver, inefficient, and not ergonomically correct. Because of their health backgrounds and aching bodies, they were painfully aware that this discomfort could lead to injury including cumulative trauma.
At one of the farmers’ markets where they sold their produce, the women struck up a conversation with a customer who just happened to be a mechanical engineer. They shared their idea for ergonomically designed garden tools with him. He was intrigued and quickly whipped up initial calculations proving ergonomically improved tools were possible. This motivated the women to conduct an on-line survey of women farmers. Through this they learned that THE single most important tool that needed a new design was a shovel. The women reached out to a state farming resource who told them about the USDA SBIR grants. The women applied, and in January 2009 they were awarded a $100,000 Phase I grant to develop their concept.
The team they recruited worked with them to bring that concept to reality. They conducted research and collected data. One of their team members turned out to be a doctoral student who decided to write his dissertation on designing ergonomic tools for women. Another, an engineer, used the research data collected to design several shovels and then created prototypes that were tested by women – students, gardeners, and farmers in the field. The researchers determined that women dig differently than men and thus need a different shovel design. The research data that was collected proved their hypothesis about ergonomics, shovel design, and the female anatomy.
It took months to fine tune the shovel design, locate a fabricator to do the manufacturing, determine sources for assembly and all the parts. Then, the fun part, what to call their new shovel. Team Liz and Ann decided to hold a Facebook contest to name their invention. This is where the term hergonomic was invented and where the “Hergonomic Shovel-Spade Hybrid” was born! Along the way there were wins and losses, but eventually the product launch occurred when Liz, Ann, and a car load of shovels made their way to the Mother Earth News Fair. More than two years after receiving the USDA Grant, HERS (the hershovel Hergonomic Shovel-spade hybrid) hit the market in 2011.
Ann and Liz have received a total of four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the US Department of Agriculture, two Phase I grants and two Phase II grants. They are dedicated to staying true to their health-focused mission of creating sustainable green yard and farm tools ergonomically designed for women. Liz and Ann are the only full time employees of Green Heron tools, but jobs and the economy of the region and state are boosted because they are dedicated to sourcing their supply chain through state and regional manufacturers and suppliers.
I called Liz Brensinger for this article. She told me that she and her partner, Ann Adams, have a passion for health and experience in grant writing. Together they identified a need, found resources to develop an innovative product to fill that need, and continue to develop other ergonomic products that further their mission. Through survey results they identified a shovel held the greatest potential because it was identified as an ergonomic need and women were willing to pay a premium for it.
Along the way the women learned lessons such as, the price that people say they are willing to pay based on survey results doesn’t necessarily translate into what they are willing to pay when the product is available in the store. They learned that distribution of ergonomically correct tools is a challenge because inherently, ergonomic correctness is based on variables such as height. At the same time, many retail establishments can’t provide the space or buy the inventory for every size of tool. Also, the yard and farm tool business is somewhat cost prohibitive to break into and historically is male dominated. Despite business challenges, the women forge forward with new, innovative “hergonomic” products that fulfill their corporate mission.
Advice from these two trailblazers is simple. Follow your passion, don’t cut corners, and don’t chase money. Stay true to what got you started in the first place.
To all of you budding innovators out there — I am mentoring and coaching candidates for USDA SBIR Phase I grants. If you would like assistance in preparing a proposal for a Phase I SBIR grant, shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. The RFA for the next award will be released in early July 2018, and the proposals are due in early October 2018. The grant money itself will be released in January 2019. If you have the passion, time, and drive, I am here to help.
I have heard it said that everyone has one idea a year that if followed through, could result in a million-dollar business. What is your idea? Maybe a better question is, are you like Liz and Ann? Do you have what it takes to see it through to the end?
Kyle Whiteis a County Extension Educator (Lorain County) & Area Leader (Area 4) for OSU Extension.
This is the third and final blog in a series I have done on the topics of the federal debt/deficit and why money in modern economies has value. I covered a lot of ground in the previous two blog entries.
In the first, which you can read here, I explained why politicians and some economists were wrong to throw up barriers to raising the deficit and the national debt in times when the economy is operating well below capacity, particularly in the years immediately following the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
In the second, which you can read here, I focused on the fact that taxation is what gives value to money that is not backed by something tangible like silver and gold (fiat currency).
The National Debt is Essential
To pause for a conclusion here, I want to emphasize that the national debt is actually essential to a modern economy. Every dollar that you have in your possession is a dollar that the US government has spent into existence and has not yet taxed. But that means it is federal debt, by definition.
So, all the savings that you and everybody else has, denominated in dollars, adds up to the national debt. Talk of eliminating the national debt is not only misguided, it is entirely foolish, because if we did that, all the savings you and everybody else had (denominated in dollars) would simply vanish! Those dollars in your wallet – checking account, or wherever – whoosh, gone instantly. There would be no modern monetary economy at all.
Okay, So Why Borrow to Finance the Deficit?
So if government spending exceeds the amount taken in by way of taxation, why does the government have to finance the cumulative difference (the debt) by selling bonds? Wouldn’t it be less stressful if we did not owe all that money to China or pension funds or to banks or to anyone? Why not just spend the money into existence without borrowing it?
Well probably the most obvious answer to these questions is that many of the ways that government officials and even economists think about money is a holdover from the gold standard era. Back then, governments were truly limited in what they could spend based on how much gold they had in reserve, because people could literally exchange their currency for government gold. In order to prevent people from doing this to the point that it ran out of gold reserves, a government would “soak up” extra currency by selling bonds to finance its debt. This would take currency out of the system for the time being with a promise to pay in the future, when presumably, there would be more gold on hand or the value of the currency would change.
But this is not necessary now because no one has the right to obtain government gold for their currency, since the gold standard is long gone everywhere.
But there is another, more practical reason the government finances its debt by selling bonds – and that is to create a market for them for the express purpose of manipulating interest rates.
Fractional Reserve Banking
When you deposit your money in the bank, that bank does not put your money in a safe and wait for you to come and retrieve it. The bank loans it out. But banks cannot lend out all the money they have on deposit, or they would be broke. They are required to maintain a fraction (about 10%) on hand. This number is called the reserve requirement ratio. Let’s say that at the end of a certain day, a bank is short on its reserve requirement. What should it do?
The first thing it does is consult other banks, because some of them may be over their reserve requirement. In this case the bank that is below would obtain an “overnight loan” from the bank that is above. The interest rate the bank pays on the loan is the overnight loan rate, also known as the “federal funds rate.” Its value fluctuates daily and you can easily obtain its current value by an Internet search. Many interest rates that you pay, including mortgage rates for a home or for a loan on a car, are related to the federal funds rate. So it is a very important item!
Where Bonds Come In
In the presence of a federal bond market, the US government, or its monetary representative the Federal Reserve, can influence the value of the federal funds rate by selling bonds (which takes money out of the system, raising rates) or by purchasing them (which puts money into the system, lowering rates). Normally, these practices are called “open market operations.”
Remember all the quantitative easing policies: QE1, QE2 and QE3? These were unprecedented levels of open market operations of Federal Reserve purchasing of bonds (and other assets before QE3 ended). These policies were undertaken to keep interest rates very low in order to stimulate the economy (making it easier for people to borrow to finance business loans, mortgages, auto loans).
Without the bond market, the federal government would not have that kind of control over interest rates. Some economists have argued that this would be a good thing. Some argue that the result would be a federal funds rate of zero permanently. Some claim that this in turn might very well lead to runaway inflation. But then again, many critics argued that the increasing government debt and quantitative easing would lead to hyperinflation – and that did not happen. However, we will probably never know because it does not seem realistic at the present moment to believe that the government of the US or any other entity that issues its own currency will ever give up the practice of issuing bonds to finance its debts. And, as I think I have shown in this series, there are bigger fish to fry than debating whether or not to abandon bonds.
Tom Blaine is an Associate Professor for OSU Extension.
With all the recent news around swimming advisories and beach closings – it is easy to become concerned about our local water bodies where we go to swim, fish, or enjoy the view. Ohio Sea Grant, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and many other state and local agencies work to provide up-to-date information on our local water resources. Here’s some more information about your water quality and where to look to find information about keeping you and your family safe while also being able to take advantage of the wonderful recreational water resources Ohio has to offer.
Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory will host a free public webinar on Thursday, July 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to explain NOAA’s 2018 Seasonal Forecast of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) for Lake Erie, including expert commentary, a discussion of the history of this issue on Lake Erie, Ohio’s response to the problem, and a Q&A session.
Registration is required.
Harmful Algal Bloom – what’s that?
This image shows a color spectrum of bloom density in Lake Erie on July 4, 2018, based on satellite detection of cyanobacteria. Grey indicates clouds or missing data.
Microcystis, and Planktothrix, and Dolichospermum oh my! Those names may sound foreign to you, but those are all species of harmful algal blooms, or HABs – any large increased density of algae that is capable of producing toxins. The HABs sighted on Lake Erie – and in some inland water bodies – tend to be cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae.
Where and when do HABs start in Lake Erie?
Because blue-green algae prefer warm water and high concentrations of phosphorus, they usually occur first in Maumee Bay at the mouth of the Maumee River and in Sandusky Bay at the mouth of the Sandusky River. Both bays are very warm and shallow and the watersheds of both rivers have very high percentages of farm land (the Maumee is the largest tributary to the Great Lakes and drains 4.2 million acres of agricultural land). As a result, both streams contain very high concentrations of phosphorus. E coli at beaches is the result of sewage, pet, or livestock waste from a nearby discharge or stream, and is not related to a harmful algal bloom.
How do I know whether it is safe to swim?
Before traveling, it may be a good idea to google the beach you’re visiting, and if possible call them to ask about any active advisories or warnings. One good resource is the ODNR Office of Coastal Management’s list of publicly accessible Lake Erie beaches at http://coastal.ohiodnr.gov/gocoast.
At the beach, look for orange or red signs – those indicate the two types of harmful algal bloom advisories/warnings.
An orange sign (advisory) means the water contains some toxin. Children and the elderly, people with health problems, and pets should avoid contact with the water.
A red sign (warning) means toxin levels are too high and everyone should avoid contact with the water.
If there are no signs, but the water looks bright green or has floating green scums, the Ohio EPA recommends a “when in doubt, stay out” approach.
Even if a beach has an advisory or warning posted, activities on land are perfectly safe, so there are still ways to enjoy a day at the beach.
What do toxin levels mean?
The World Health Organization (WHO) sets the maximum allowable concentration of microcystin in drinking water at 1 part per billion (ppb) — about equivalent to 1 drop of toxin in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Ohio has followed that recommendation so far, but is expected to convert to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines soon, which advise microcystin limits of 0.3 ppb for children under 6 and 1.6 ppb for the general population.
If toxins have been detected in one part of the lake, is the water in the whole lake unsafe?
Blooms are generally limited by water currents, winds and where nutrients enter the water. Toxin can persist in the water for more than 30 days, but is rapidly diluted and quickly reaches safe levels when the bloom dissipates and as one moves away from the bloom. Water treatment plants in Lake Erie’s western basin routinely monitor the water they bring in for human use, so affected areas can know about a problem quickly.
How is toxin removed from the water?
Water treatment plants use activated charcoal (also called activated carbon), as well as UV rays and other techniques, to remove toxic substances from the water. The toxins, such as microcystin, bind to the charcoal particles, which are then filtered out of the water again.
How do we expand employment opportunities and community leadership capacity as well as strengthen and leverage an area’s agricultural and natural resource-based economy within a three-county region? We marshal resources necessary to create three county-based Extension educator positions where the impact of the ‘full on’ Extension network and its collaborative efforts can be immediately felt.
James Morris and Brooke Beam recently joined long-time OSU Extension educator Dave Dugan in a three-county cluster in southwestern Ohio. James started most recently (May 29) in Brown County. Brooke Beam started March 26 and is based in Highland County. They will be working closely with Dave Dugan who will can now focus on Adams County; a welcome relief from his previous task covering all three of these counties. Brooke, James, and Dave bring a wide variety of experience and formal training in the areas of agronomy, agri-business, direct marketing, agricultural communication and Extension.
As a team, they will aim to address rural development needs in the three-county area. Specific areas of emphasis include: farm management, innovative ag-business enterprise development, and community leadership development, for example. A key program goal is to cultivate systems that support new rural economic development and business development opportunities.
Extension work is collaborative work. We are excited about the various ways that Brooke, James and Dave can work together and also in collaboration with community stakeholders, long-time partners and the many Extension colleagues that exist across the system.
How can you reach them?
OSU Extension – Highland County
119 Governor Foraker Place; Suite 202
Hillsboro, OH 45133
Since the turn of the century there has been increasing attention on K-12 education systems and improving the quality of curricula and authentic learning experiences for students entering the 21st century workforce. There is greater emphasis on elevating fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in response to workforce demands that are requiring a more tech savvy multidisciplinary skillset.[i] For this reason, numerous new learning approaches, curricula, programs, community partnerships, and specialized schools are emerging.[ii] While most of these initiatives address one or more of the STEM subjects separately, there are increasing calls for emphasizing connections between and among the subjects, as well as bringing real world problems into the classroom through business and industry partnerships with educators. STEM is rapidly transcending into a verb, describing inclusionary critical thinking skills to solving everyday real world problems facing our communities and socioeconomics.
APPLIED SKILLSETS & LIFELONG LEARNING
Education advocates and academic researchers find that a more integrated, problem-based, hands-on learning approach is vital to the K-12 education.[iii] This is because it gives students applied skillsets that today’s workforce requires. These advocates find educational impacts increase when K-12 educators involve solving real world problems. The education impacts are furthering impacts when the educators include business and industry partnerships that support the problem-based learning approach. These authentic partnered learning approaches make STEM subjects more relevant to students, teachers, and program participates. [iv],[v] This in turn can boost motivation in the learning process and improve students’ interest, achievement, and persistence in schooling and become lifelong learners. Being and remaining a lifelong learner is critical for success in the 21st century. These outcomes, STEM advocates are asserting, will help address calls for greater workplace and college readiness as well as increasing the number of students considering STEM careers; where currently 40% of STEM jobs go unfilled due to applicants not having the required skillsets.[vi] Extension can be a solution to closing the 21st century skillset deficit and connecting our youth to STEM skillsets and career pathways.
“Lifelong learning is an essential challenge for inventing the future of our societies; it is a necessity rather than a luxury to be considered … It is a mindset and a habit for people (student, educator, or the worker) to acquire. It creates the challenge to understand, explore, and support new essential dimensions of learning such as: (1) self-directed learning, (2) learning on demand, (3) informal learning, and (4) collaborative and organizational learning. Lifelong learning requires progress and an integration of new theories, innovative systems, practices, and assessment.”
-Gerhard Fischer, Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning & Design of the University of Colorado
For over a year and a half, my particular Extension programmatic focus has been on preparing Pickaway County youth for STEM education and the 21st century workforce. I work collaboratively with a team of Extension professionals, volunteers, campus collaborators, and community partners to provide leadership for the development, production, and evaluation of educational programs and applied research to foster STEM educational opportunities that increase career attainment in STEM fields. More specifically, I work to provide leadership and programming to meet current and future needs related to K-12 STEM education with Pickaway County schools. I work in conjunction with the Pickaway County Educational Service Center, Pickaway HELPS, Pickaway WORKS, school district curriculum directors, K-12 teachers, business leaders, economic development organizations, local business and industry, and the Ohio State University collaborators.
Figure 1: NACDEP 2018 presentation clip highlighting the workshop agenda, “21st Century Workforce: skillsets & Growth Mindset for Educators to Target.” Retrieved from: go.osu.edu/NACDEPcodeworkshop.
This spring I took my STEM programming on the road to the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals in Cleveland, OH to present on the 21st century workforce, the applied skillsets required, and a hands-on coding challenge to educators across the country. Coding literacy is a 21st century requirement, which gives us a skillset to participate in the digital world. We should not just learn how to use computers and technology, we should develop applied programming that inspires and builds confidence for our communities and youth participates to learn to program computers – to be drivers in the digital world, not passengers. If this is something that interests you, visit the resource links below and start learning.
Video: video highlights OSU Extension Sphero Coding Programs. The first clip, was filmed by Brooke Beam, OSU Extension Educator. Brooke recorded Extension Educators from across the country engaging in Sphero coding challenges at the 2018 NACDEP Conference in Cleveland, OH. The following videos and photos were recorded or taken by Meghan Thoreau. All iPads and Spheros came from Apple Education. The music is by Stromae, Tous les Mêmes.
The video highlights Sphero (one connected education toy I include in my coding programs), but there are dozens of connected toys for educators to choose from. For example, the educational Parrot Drones can be programmed through code and is a great tool for educators looking to innovative their youth and adult Extension programs. Knowledge in drone technology is an example of how technology impacts the future of work. UPS is actively testing residential drone delivery, where a traditional delivery driver will soon have to add programming a drone to their daily tasks. Electric vehicle maker Workhorse Group (based in Columbus, OH) is working with delivery companies in actual use. Domino’s is currently delivering pizza via ground drones in Europe and New Zealand with more cities scheduled to go online in the very near future. Amazon, the e-commerce giant, tested its first drone deliveries in the U.K. in 2016.
But back to basic entry level coding. Connected toys, robotics, gaming, all make code interactive and fun learning, but it is also a critical skillset to today’s workforce. Instilling the importance of lifelong learning extends from the educators to their students, but it must also be from the employers to their workforce so that we may all support and incorporate more technology into curriculum, programming, outreach, and work itself. The shift to applied programming is central for Extension being a solution to closing the skillset deficit and connecting our youth to STEM career pathways through hands-on connected learning that is developed around real-world problem solving.
I have personally watched and listened to my youth participants, and they have become more curious, focused, and engaged in a STEM education and problem solving. The hands-on programming excites them beyond the program itself or their classroom. For example, after teaching a two-day computer science program with four elementary school buildings I returned the following month to be bombarded by students who wanted to share all the coding challenges they tried at home with me. The students engaged in self-directed learning. Extension provided the students and parents with a coding factsheet that highlighted several online sites that offer self-directed code challenges to get kids coding. Several even returned after winter break with their own Spheros. I witnessed a switch – the students did not just want to get a new game to play, they wanted a connected toy to code and write programs for themselves.
DRIVE YOUR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
Educators: how many times have you altered or borrowed a lesson plan for your Extension programming? You understood the language and changed what was necessary to make the lesson applicable to your program’s objective. Code has languages too, and in order to remain relevant and impactful to your communities, you may have to gain some basic coding skills to alter or borrow technology to implement it into your Extension programming, not to mention instill a very important 21st century skillset into your participates’ mindsets – the ability to code, to create, and to problem solve.[vii]
You do not have to be a computer science expert. Your goal can be to just teach enough of the basics to inspire our youth and program participates to explore the multitude of self-directed learning platforms that teach code and connect them to career opportunities that computer science underlays. Code is everywhere: agriculture, sports, education, art/design, pharmaceutics, robotics, health, entertainment, travel, law, politics, engineering, transportation, meteorology, tourism – you get the point. No youth or 21st Century Workforce Development Program should be absent of code or technology.[viii]
OSU DIGITAL FLAGSHIP INITIATIVE
There are exciting advances happening at The Ohio State University campuses, but by far I’m most interested in the OSU Digital Flagship Initiative taking off this fall. To learn more details about this initiative visit, digitalflagship.osu.edu/, but the highlights are as follows:
Figure 2: presentation slide that highlights the new OSU Digital Flagship Initiative.
I’m actively working with a team of Ohio State professionals to support Extension’s consideration in this exciting initiative and hopefully rally interest in organizing an Extension Digital Flagship Educators Cohort to bring the digital impacts of this initiative statewide through employing innovative technology, curriculum, and coding resources more comprehensively within our OSU Extension programs and outreach.
Adopt a growth mindset. This approach helps educators continue learning and problem solving through challenges. It is important for educators to fight through lifelong learning and remain a driver in the digital age, not a user. Be creative, curious, and adaptive.
A person learns best on the job. Therefore, bring real world problems and technology to your programs. Educators embrace technology and lifelong learning, look to community partners, and business and industry leaders to engage in the K-12 learning experience.
STEM matters. Technology matters. Both are essential to the 21st century teaching and learning programs. K-12 Education requires over-lapping STEM technology with real world problems and partnering with educators, business, and industry to close the 21st century skillset deficit. Educators must be knowledgeable about technology, be critical thinkers, and problem-solvers to prepare our youth for the real and ever-evolving workforce.
What started out as a casual conversation among friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the 2014 NACDEP Conference recently culminated with over 180 Community Development professionals gathering in Cleveland for the 2018 NACDEP Conference. The carefully planned and executed agenda allowed time for participants to enjoy Cleveland, renew old friendships, make new connections, and most importantly engage in an excellent agenda for personal and professional development.
Ben Bebenroth – Chef, Farmer, Founder of Spice Hospitality Group, engages a full house during the closing session.
The program included keynote sessions with thought- provoking speakers, concurrent session presentations by Community Development colleagues from Ohio and from across the nation, poster sessions filled with great ideas, mobile learning workshops which took place throughout Cleveland, and opportunities to informally connect with our friends and colleagues.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I say it takes a complete team to create an exceptional conference. That team included my colleagues from Ohio State University Extension, Community Development. Many of them worked countless hours to ensure a first- rate experience for attendees. To them all, I say, “Thank you and job well done!”
While I cannot recognize all of them by name here, I would especially like to highlight the conference planning subcommittee chairs:
Speakers: Anne Johnson and Myra Wilson
Publicity: Alice Hutzel-Bateson and Meghan Thoreau
Hospitality: Jared Morrison, Sandy Odrumsky and Amanda Osborne
Mobile Learning Workshops/Tours: Amanda Osborne and Lauren Vargo
Concurrent Sessions: Cindy Bond and Becky Nesbitt
Sponsorship: Kyle White
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not recognize my conference planning committee co-chair, Greg Davis. Greg’s leadership provided an outlet and an opportunity to engage us as Community Development professionals that ultimately created an excellent conference. Thanks, Greg.
See you next year in Asheville (North Carolina), June 9-12!
If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018, contact:
Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring greens, onions, strawberries, and more! With the arrival of June, it’s officially farmers’ market season in Northeast Ohio and Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Cuyahoga County is gearing up for another season of offering Produce Perks at local farmers’ markets.
The Produce Perks program offers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers a dollar-for-dollar match, doubling their purchasing power at participating farmers’ markets, farm stands, CSAs, and mobile markets. For every dollar a SNAP customer spends at a participating farmers’ market or farm stand using an Ohio Direction Card, they receive a free additional dollar, referred to as a “Produce Perk,” to use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce Perks allows low-income customers the opportunity to purchase more healthy, locally-grown produce.
The Produce Perks program was piloted in Cuyahoga County in 2010 by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition and is implemented locally by OSU Extension. Produce Perks is now Ohio’s statewide nutrition incentive program, guided by the Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network (OH-NIN).
The Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network
Prior to 2015, regions across Ohio operated independent nutrition incentive programs. In 2015, Wholesome Wave, a national non-profit, received a USDA-FINI grant to build the capacity of nutrition incentive programming in Ohio (among 19 other states). Over the course of the three years, regional programs came together to form the Ohio Nutrition Incentive Network and to expand and operate one statewide nutrition incentive program, Produce Perks.
OH-NIN is made up of the following organizations:
Farmers Market Association of Toledo
Farmers Market Management Network
Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Grocers Association
Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County
Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, Case Western Reserve University
Produce Perks Midwest
The formation of this network has provided many perks (pun intended)! One perk has been increased support for local and statewide marketing through new or expanded partnerships with agencies such as Ohio Department of Jobs and Families Services. In addition, with Support from Wholesome Wave and Ohio Department of Health, Produce Perks Midwest has been able to test innovative marketing tactics to help guide outreach efforts. Scaling up has also provided the benefit of increased funding; most notably, OH-NIN was awarded funding from Ohio Department of Health funding to implement Produce Perks across the state in 2018. To learn more about the statewide program impacts in 2017, click here.
Increasing the Match
As of May 1st, OH-NIN increased the match offered through the Produce Perks program to $20. This increase has doubled the SNAP incentive match offered in Cuyahoga County in previous years. OSU Extension and participating farmers’ markets in the county are elated; increasing the match was something we’ve wanted to do for years, but the ability to do so only became possible through the formation and success of OH-NIN. Cuyahoga County saw an increase in demand for incentives and fresh produce immediately after increasing the cap on the matching dollars offered. While most of our farmers’ markets don’t open until June, we have three farmers’ markets in the county that are open year round. When comparing data for May of 2017 and May 2018, North Union Farmers’ Market at Shaker Square has seen a 76% increase in SNAP sales and 104% increase in Produce Perks incentive distribution, increasing sales for small to mid-sized farms. We anticipate seeing similar trends at all markets in the County as the season takes off.
How to Join OH-NIN
In 2018, Produce Perks will be offered at 84 farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and CSAs in 20 counties across Ohio. The Produce Perks program will also be offered at a select number of grocery retail sites.
OH-NIN is looking to expand its network of participating locations. Any farmers’ markets, farm stands, or CSAs interested in offering Produce Perks can complete an application found here. Ideally, new sites applying to join OH-NIN would be SNAP authorized by the USDA and have accepted SNAP/EBT for a minimum of one year. However, those are not hard requirements and OH-NIN can provide technical assistance for SNAP authorization and accepting EBT.
If your organization is interested in supporting the work of OH-NIN through partnerships, promotion, or advocacy, please send an email to email@example.com
To learn more about SNAP at farmers’ markets, Produce Perks, and OH-NIN contact Amanda Osborne, County Extension Educator in Cuyahoga County.