Education through Social Networking

Social MediaI have the best job in the world. As an extension educator for Ohio Sea Grant and OSU Extension, my job is to help communicate science in an easy-to-understand way to the public. When I started in this role, this was done mostly through in person meetings, phone calls, emails, and within educational settings such as outreach events. I still continue to communicate with the public and my stakeholders through these outlets, but I have added a new approach for reaching others to this list: social media.

When I created my first Twitter account and a Facebook page for our program, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing! I had used these platforms to interact with family and friends, but was unsure of how to engage the public. However, I soon found that by following other colleagues and programs there was a community well-versed in the art of social communication. In my case, I found a group of science communicators who have taken to social media to help engage the public around the topics that they are researching, and to aid in communicating the scientific process to the public. The #SciComm community – as they call themselves – has helped me to realize the value of social media as a method for education and outreach. Another great network of people who provide helpful guidance on social media is the Educational Technology Learning Network, or #EdTechLN. You can find their social media feed here: extedtechs.org/edtechln/.

I use social media to promote outreach events, share news about recent accomplishments in my organization, and to provide current and factual information on a variety of topics related to my program and organization. As a company, community, or citizen – you can use social media to promote your business, recognize an exceptional employee or colleague, and to provide up-to-date, reliable information to your audience. There are many ways that you can follow and interact with OSU Extension and Ohio Sea Grant on social media – I’ve listed a few below. Feel free to engage with us through these platforms – we’re listening and here to help!

OSU Extension and Community Development:

 Ohio Sea Grant:

Clean Marinas program collage

On our Ohio Clean Marinas and Clean Boaters Page, we promote marina businesses that take steps to improve air and water quality at their facility. We in turn encourage these businesses to use social media to promote themselves as a certified Clean Marina to their clientele.

Sarah Orlando is the Program Manager for the Ohio Clean Marina Program. She can be contacted at: 419-609-4120, orlando.42@osu.edu, or @SarahAOrlando.

Building healthy and productive lives together

Without a place to call home, it is difficult to build a healthy and productive life. And while being number one is usually a good thing; it is certainly not so in this case.

Franklin County has the highest number of evictions in the state, averaging 19,000 filings annually over the last 10 years. Matthew Desmond’s book, Evicted, indicates that evictions occur for a variety of reasons, including: a limited understanding of the tenant’s responsibilities and rights; lack of financial management and home maintenance skills; and, an untenable rent to income ratio.

Franklin County Extension is attempting to address this issue by offering to residents throughout the community a vast array of programs and services focused on, for example: HUD-certified home buyer education; money management; food production, preservation and nutrition; workforce development and much more!

To learn more, check out the materials shared on the Franklin County Extension website. To learn about what’s happening in your community and how OSU Extension can help, visit the OSU Extension website or call your local Extension office.

Susan Colbert is Program Director for Expansion and Engagement in Franklin County (Heart of Ohio EERA).

Organizational Change – make it real

One of the questions I get asked the most when working with an organization is, “How do you go about creating cultural change?” I think the reason we get asked this so frequently is because the task seems huge, outside the realm of the possible. There are a number of reasons a corporate culture needs or wants to change, but regardless of why, the process of making the change a reality is rooted in dialogue.

Human beings experience the world through language. It shapes our reality and defines our lives. The most cohesive organizations have a common language. Sometimes we call it jargon, and sometimes it is all but impossible for someone from the outside to understand, but the way the team (or company, or entire discipline) talks impacts its identity.

In the book Tribal Leadership, Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright outline five stages of organizational development which are defined by the conversations that members of the organizations have. Moving an organization through the stages is a process that can be managed, but requires that individuals become conscious of and responsible for how they communicate. If you work for or with an organization that is struggling, this book is a good place to start looking for solutions.

While the book focuses on the impact that corporate culture has on productivity, what I find in my work is that corporate culture impacts and is impacted by so many aspects of an organization. We may measure our success based on productivity, but in the end that is only a measurement, as are things like job satisfaction, recruitment, and turn-over rates.

How then, do we bring out real change in an organization? Is it really as simple as managing the conversations? Yes and no.

The first thing to remember is that leaders set the tone. Not just in the formal speeches like those made at the Annual Meeting of the Board, for example, but in every interaction they have with members of the organization. All too often, leaders are focused on themselves. On their work, their goals, their team. They use “I, me, and my” statements without realizing that this often sets up competition within the organization itself. In fact, they frequently see internal competition as healthy in a Darwinian way.

The authors of Tribal Leadership contend, and my own observations support, that this is not a conversation that allows for or supports positive organizational change, and yet it is the most common conversation that happens in an organization. Instead, positive change occurs within the conversation of vision. This is where teams come together and take on industry standards as the competition, not other parts of their own company. This is not an easy shift to make, but it is essential for both personal and organizational growth. We see this in many industry-leading companies and most successful social movements.  Simon Sinek may have said it best in his TED Talk, “Start With Why.”

If organizational change is something your organization is struggling with, know that there are a number of resources to help. For more information, contact your local Community Development Extension personnel. We would love to help you.

Laura Fuller is a county Extension educator in Noble County (Buckeye Hills EERA).

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Set to Rock in Cleveland this Summer

University faculty, educators and staff involved in the Sea Grant College program throughout the Great Lakes region will converge in downtown Cleveland for the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network meeting hosted this year by Ohio Sea Grant from June 5-8.

GLSGN Meeting Logo

Credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Why is this important? For 50+ years, the National Sea Grant College program has worked to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy. The Sea Grant network includes 33 programs based at top universities in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The programs of the Sea Grant network work together to help citizens understand, conserve and better utilize America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources.

A partnership between universities and the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sea Grant directs federal resources to pressing problems in local communities. By drawing on the experience of more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, public outreach experts, educators and students from more than 300 institutions, Sea Grant is able to make an impact at local and state levels, and serve as a powerful national force for change.

Sea Grant invests in high-priority research, addressing issues such as population growth and development in coastal communities; preparation and response to hurricanes, coastal storms and tsunamis; understanding our interactions with the marine environment; fish and shellfish farming; seafood safety; and fisheries management. The results of this research are shared with the public through Sea Grant’s integrated outreach program which brings together the collective expertise of on-the-ground extension agents, educators and communications specialists. The goal is to ensure that vital research results are shared with those who need it most and in ways that are timely, relevant and meaningful. For more information, please visit the Ohio Sea Grant website above or the National Sea Grant College program website.

Joe Lucente is an Associate Professor and Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Conveying a Tradition of Philanthropy

“Service is the rent we pay for living.” -Marian Wright Edelman, 1993

Traditions – every person and every family has them. Most of us think of a tradition as something that we do during the holidays or special events. What if one of those traditions was philanthropy? What if philanthropy was something that not only occurred with families during a holiday but also was a part of our lifestyle? As adults, we can teach the children in our lives a tradition that will become a part of their lifestyle and a part of their value system.

There are a variety of ways to teach children to respect the needs of others and do kind things. Children need to know that it is important to give of ourselves to others. As adults, we can teach philanthropy every time we talk to children and by demonstrating compassionate behavior through giving. We can demonstrate how to give our time, talent, or treasure.

How can adults be philanthropic role models for children? One way is through volunteering one’s service in a community. Volunteering or providing a service is one of the best ways an adult can be a role model for lifelong philanthropic giving.

Character and self-esteem are enhanced when children are engaged in volunteering. Many times when children volunteer they acquire new skills, develop confidence and maturity. Helping others helps children put their own problems in perspective. Children also meet people from other backgrounds and learn teamwork and civic responsibility. Research shows that youth who volunteer early in life learn that service or philanthropic giving is a part of their lifestyle.

Remember philanthropic traditions do not have to be elaborate. Volunteering with young children can be singing at a nursing home or as simple as putting spoons in a container at a soup kitchen. It is the basic idea of seeing philanthropic giving as a tradition that adults are teaching children.

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Guernsey County (Crossroads EERA).

If You Want to Go Far, Go Together; and If You Want to Transform, enVISION Fayette County

Even with all the high-tech aids at our disposal, getting from the proverbial ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ these days can be a daunting task. There is one old-school approach, however, that still has its merits. That is, one can still find direction and goal-setting to be much easier with a little bit of planning.

Strategic planning is a tool that is useful for guiding day-to-day decisions and also for evaluating progress and making course adjustments along the way. Its principles can be applied on a personal, organizational, or community level.

On a community level, it could be referred to as comprehensive land use planning. Why would one want to create or update a comprehensive land use plan?

  • To revisit the vision of what residents want for the future of their community
  • To see the big picture of how the community’s economy, environment, and culture are intertwined
  • To obtain a reassurance that everyone in the community shares in its improved well-being
  • To select and agree on some common goals of the community
  • To find out how much time, money, and other resources are needed to support positive community change
  • To gain the support of Federal, State, private and non-profit partners in developing one’s community
Fayette County enVISION sector groups

Sector groups in discussion

Strategic planning principles were applied as part of the recent enVision Fayette County effort. Fayette County Extension played a central role in convening local and external resources and community residents to revise and update the Fayette County comprehensive land use strategic plan.

One of the partners was OSU’s Knowlton School. Graduate students from the City and Regional Planning program helped with data collection and development of the final report. In addition, to engage a diverse group of county residents, students used an online survey to collect feedback on priorities and goals and a website and Facebook page to communicate the planning process and opportunities for engagement. They participated in community events and engaged with residents to discuss community needs and concerns. Furthermore, they hosted four interactive public meetings to familiarize community stakeholders with the planning process.

The participating stakeholders were many, and included, for example: townships, villages and municipalities, county government, school districts and the non-profit/for profit organizations and agencies. In addition to identifying directions and resources available for pursuing them, participants realized the value of working together in pursuit of community goals.

Fayette County Leaders and OSU Students

Fayette County local leaders and OSU grad students

‘Old-school’ strategic planning mixed with high-tech tools for engaging a variety of stakeholders; a winning approach for moving a community from point A to point B.

To learn more about this local effort, contact Godwin Apaliyah. To learn more about ways to engage others in organizational or community planning, see OSU Extension’s organizational capacity programs.

Godwin Apaliyah is a County Extension Educator in Fayette County (Miami Valley EERA).

Working Together to Strengthen Ohio’s Economy

How does Extension better address vacant storefronts, underemployment issues, and help inform local economic development strategies? It engages local Extension professionals in a day-long in-service focused on building their familiarity with ‘Community Economics’ programs. A few weeks ago CD professionals learned more about economic development tools they can use to better impact communities throughout Ohio. The workshop featured familiar – and not so familiar – programs being conducted throughout the state to address the on-going economic concerns many Ohio communities are facing.

BR&E Training

David Civittolo explaining BR&E Program assumptions.

Discussed were tried and true programs such as Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E), first delivered by OSU Extension in 1986, as well as the popular First Impressions program which has been used by Extension systems throughout the country as a way to gain authentic visitor insight about ways to improve communities. The more recent (and technical) Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) and Retail Market Analysis (RMA) programs were also shared. With a little training, both can provide a wealth of information about how local economies work, informing strategies for use by local development officials.

Nancy Bowen

Nancy Bowen discussing various outcomes of BR&E.

Senior Extension staff members David Civittolo, Myra Moss, Eric Romich and Nancy Bowen convened participants and led discussion focused on how the various programs can be applied locally, including, for example:

  • “Estimating the economic impact of a ‘typical’ farmer’s market”
  • “Learning more about residents’ perceptions of community services”
  • “Identifying development opportunities in a central business district”

Participants left equipped with a better understanding of some of Extension’s economic development tools and how to apply them in their own communities.  After the one-day workshop, participant Trevor Corboy indicated that he felt ready to put these tools into action in a number of Clermont County communities.

Find out more about these and other community economics programs and how they can be put to work in your community by contacting any one of the presenters above. For basic information, visit our Economic Development program page.

Every one of us lives in a community. Let’s work together to make them better!

Nancy Bowen is an Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Forget the Millennial vs. Boomer Distinctions:  Let’s talk about reaching Generation “C”

How many of you have seen notices for workshops on “understanding Millennials” or “generational divides” in the workplace? They appear in my in-box on a regular basis. While I believe there is great merit in understanding differences that may exist in various age categories, I think these constructs may be the wrong focus. Instead, perhaps we should seek a common language that promotes communication, teamwork, networking, and innovation across age and other perceived boundaries. But how would we do that? I have not seen THAT webinar offered yet!

ConnectedThe founder and CEO of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes, said, “the concept of millennials is just too limiting.” Instead, he proposes that we forget age and generational differences. He recommends we consider the concept of “Generation-C” – an idea that includes people of all ages, socioeconomic status levels, rural/urban locales, and other normally divisive categories. The idea of Generation-C is that of a common language that promotes communication, teamwork, and innovation across these real and perceived boundaries.

Generation-C is a mindset. It refers to everything from collaboration to community to computerized and/or content. And they are not just consuming content; they are creating and curating it. The most fundamental component is “connectivity.” Holmes says they “move seamlessly from laptop to tablet to smartphone,” staying connected in all aspects.

These are people you want to be around. They are connecting and helping the rest of us learn the latest and best approaches to expanding our work. Do you know someone who is a Generation-C worker? You want to be around them, don’t you?!

Jamie Seger, Program Director, OSU Extension Education Technology (and self-confessed Jamie Seger connectingmillennial), and her co-worker Danae Wolfe have been advocating this approach for years. They work to bridge our four Extension program areas by engaging people (of all generations) across technology platforms, processes, and networks. (In the photo to the left, Jamie is seen teaching “best online practices” at a recent conference on campus. She’s not targeting millennials. She’s connecting everyone!)

Perhaps adopting this mindset or approach to our work could unite and expand our efforts, reaching (and positively impacting) even more citizens across the state and nation. Give Generation-C a try. Anyone can join in. Don’t be left behind.

Source:

Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things You Need to Know About Generation C
http://www.inc.com/ryan-holmes/move-over-millennials-5-things-you-need-to-know-about-generation-c.html

Brian Raison is an Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Community & Organizational Leadership Development.

Restoring a Burning River – 50 years later

We all know the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. What’s being done to clean it up?

There’s lots of buzz starting to generate these days around the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, as local residents and water enthusiasts begin gearing up for the 50 year anniversary of the last time the river caught on fire in 1969. Since then, many changes have taken place along the Cuyahoga and much effort has been made to restore the river and its watershed.

Mayor Carl Stokes – 1969 Cuyahoga River News Conference (clevelandhistorical.org)

The infamous 1969 fire was actually the last of a series of occasions in which the river “caught on fire.”  In reality, it wasn’t the river itself that was burning, but the oil, sewage, industrial waste, and flammable debris floating on the water’s surface. In addition to the spectacle of a burning river, all of this contamination heavily degraded water quality, damaged terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitats, and ultimately led to a major loss of biodiversity.

Since 1969 much as been done to clean up the Cuyahoga and other rivers like it. The passage of the Clean Water Act came a few years later in 1972 and sought to make all of America’s rivers ‘fishable and swimmable’ by establishing the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants and by setting quality standards for surface waters. Fifteen years later in 1987 a binational agreement between the United States and Canada called the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) sought to bring more attention to the most polluted waters specifically in the Great Lakes. According to the GLWQA, each of the polluted rivers, called Areas of Concern (AOC), were required to develop Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) that identify all of the environmental problems (called Beneficial Use Impairments, or BUIs) in the area and enlist local advisory committees and environmental protection agencies to restore them.

For the Cuyahoga River, only the lower 46.5 miles are included in the Area of Concern. So are all of the tributaries that drain into that section of the river and the shoreline adjacent to the river’s mouth, including tributaries that flow directly into Lake Erie. The entire AOC covers an area that stretches from Big Creek on the western edge of Cuyahoga County to Euclid Creek in the east, and from the shore of Lake Erie south all the way to the City of Akron. In total, the area spans parts of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Portage, Summit, and Medina counties, and includes 10 BUIs that the RAP has targeted for restoration:

  • Restrictions on Fish Consumption
  • Degradation of Fish Populations
  • Fish Tumors or Other Deformities
  • Degradation of Benthos
  • Restrictions on Navigational Dredging
  • Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae
  • Beach Closings (Recreational Contact)
  • Public Access and Recreation Impairments
  • Degradation of Aesthetics
  • Loss of Fish Habitat

In short, lots of people are working to clean the river up and delist the BUIs. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is collaborating with the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee to lead restoration actions. The Advisory Committee is facilitated by the nonprofit Cuyahoga River Restoration, and 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.

Some of the restoration activities that have taken place are complex and expensive undertakings, such as removing dams or installing green stormwater infrastructure to reduce combined sewer overflows (during heavy rains untreated stormwater and wastewater combine and discharge directly into the river). Other activities are much smaller in scale, like restoring riverbank vegetation, working with landowners to plant riparian buffers, and developing fish habitat along barren stretches of the shipping channel close to the river’s mouth. Ultimately, much of the progress to delist BUIs will be dependent on education and outreach that informs the public about the problems facing the Cuyahoga River and encourages local residents to contribute to potential solutions.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cuyahoga River, or would like to contribute to restoration efforts, there are plenty of opportunities. To get started, check out the website for the AOC’s facilitating organization, Cuyahoga River Restoration, or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park located in the river’s headwaters. You will be able to read about all of the great things happening to keep the Cuyahoga fishable and swimmable and see how you can personally make a difference. We have come a long way over the past several decades!

See you on the river!

Scott Hardy is an Extension Educator with the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Time to Hit the Road: Business Retention and Expansion Heads South

What do Macedonia and the Ukraine have in common and how are these countries similar to Indiana, New York, South Dakota and Florida? For good measure, let’s add Guam too (the tiny U.S. island territory in Micronesia in the Western Pacific).

Still not sure?

Answer: Ohio State University Extension Community Development professionals have delivered, shared and taught Ohio’s Business Retention and Expansion program curriculum in all of them!

As recently as two weeks ago, Extension CD professionals David Civittolo and Joe Lucente visited with colleagues at the University of Florida to deliver a three-day train the trainer program. Twelve University of Florida Extension agents learned the nuts and bolts of the traditional BR&E program and were also introduced to a newly-revised curriculum module: BR&E for Agri-business.

Since the 12 attendees were mostly Agriculture agents, the curriculum enabled them to better understand how to conduct a BR&E program focusing exclusively on agri-business clusters.

A highlight of the program was that the agents conducted actual business visits using an agribusiness questionnaire that they helped create. After the business interviews, the agents presented the information that would be most useful to the local stakeholders and the business community they surveyed.

For example, one business indicated during an interview that they needed assistance purchasing more locally grown vegetables for their high-end restaurant. As a result of the interview, Florida Extension agents were able to put the owner in touch with a local greenhouse that is in a position to provide more locally grown vegetables.

Since 1986, OSU Extension has partnered with local officials and residents in 155 communities located in 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties to better inform community decisions and help existing businesses grow and expand. To learn more about the program, the BR&E materials and how we can help your community contact David Civittolo or go.osu.edu/BRnE.

David Civittolo is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics. He co-leads OSU Extension’s Community Economics Team.