2014 eXtension Food Security Conference

“Can you believe vegetables are growing in the shadow of an urban high-rise apartment building?”

“I will be more deliberate in including community members—particularly those whose voices are often omitted—in the early, developmental phases of my Extension educational outreach and programming.”

Overview:

Food Security Conference 2014 - reducedThese thoughts are from two participants of the USDA AFRI funded Food Security Conference hosted by the eXtension Community, Local & Regional Food Systems Community of Practice (CLRFS eCoP) and held in downtown Cleveland, September 29 – October 1, 2014. The conference included 104 Extension educators, researchers and community partners from Land Grant Universities and local non-profit organizations from 23 states. Since 2012, this group has grown to become the fourth largest eCoP among nearly 80 in eXtension’s nationwide system.

Key conference goals included:

  • positioning food security as a priority in food system research and practice
  • enhancing Extension’s capacity to work on food security and food systems
  • bringing together University and Extension workers with community food system practitioners to address core competencies for professionals engaged in this work

It also sought to align University research priorities with community needs and to train Food Systems Extension professionals of the future. The breakout sessions focused on skill development, aligning research, developing understandings among the local and regional food system community and building the capacity and value proposition of the CLRFS eCoP. The Cleveland location allowed participants to gain experiential knowledge via urban agriculture tours and conversations with the growers and food security practitioners in the region.

The conference keynote plenary session targeted the role racism plays in food security in America. The CLRFS eCoP identified the need to build Extension’s capacity to address food security through new lenses as a critical initiative for the group. Trainers from The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond led attendees through a training session on “Undoing Racism in Our Food Security Work.” Conference participants were challenged to define racism and its implications for society and to consider how their work might unwittingly contribute or further injustice in the food system.

Click here to read the full article, including descriptions of the urban ag tour stops and links to additional coverage.

The conference was made possible by eXtension and a grant from the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

(Submitted by: Brian Raison, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Miami County and Top of Ohio EERA / Co-leader, eXtension Community, Local & Regional Food Systems Community of Practice.)

Alber Enterprise Center: Solutions for organizational challenges

At some point, even the most successful teams, organizations, and agencies of any type (public, private, non-profit, etc.) face seemingly insurmountable barriers to growth and success. And, their inability to recognize the barrier can sometimes be part of the problem.

AEC-puzzle-graphic350x544--web1

The Alber Enterprise Center (AEC) has been providing organization development consulting for employers throughout Ohio (and beyond) since 1996. AEC is a business outreach service of The Ohio State University and OSU Extension based on the Marion campus of OSU. Their staff develop customized plans to help teams of all sizes reach their potential. Learn more about their services, including the BRIDGE program at the new AEC website. Encourage the teams, organizations, agencies and businesses in your community to check out the new on-line course catalog too.

You can also follow the Alber Enterprise Center via a variety of social media networks:

Contact the Alber Center at alber.osu.edu/index.php/en/contact-us.

Informing community planning for shale play impacts

How do we inform community planning for the impacts related to the shale play in eastern Ohio? One approach is to track key indicator data.

EDA data analysisExtension researchers recently shared the highlights of an advanced cluster analysis focused on manufacturing with community development officials in four EDD’s (economic development districts) within the eastern Ohio shale play. The cluster analysis is one of four analytical steps being conducted as part of an EDA (Economic Development Administration) funded project to inform the overall 25-county region about economic, social and environmental changes, potential implications and strategic directions for sustainable development.

Changes are being tracked quarterly or annually depending on what is being measured using a number of data sets including the Center for Human Resource Research’s enterprise and workforce database and IMPLAN, an economic modeling software program. Social and environmental indicators are also being tracked including school enrollment, housing starts, crime and water quality, using a wide variety of public and private data sources.

The cluster analysis revealed both expected and unexpected trends occurring in the four EDD’s. As anticipated, in the region experiencing the majority of the drilling activity, the vast majority of the 600 or so jobs created between 2010-2013 were in the core and ancillary industries related to shale development. During the same period, the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District in the southern-most part of the 25-county region saw a concentration of hiring activity occurring primarily in construction tied to housing and commercial development, most likely due to shale development. Unexpectedly, relatively little or no jobs were created in core or ancillary shale industries in this district.

Building on the cluster analysis findings, researchers are now embarking on an industry capacity assessment to discover linkages and opportunities for sustainable growth in value added manufacturing in the four regions. A recently published article provides more information on the project:  cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/project-helping-ohio-communities-avert-bust-after-shale-boom.

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)

Extension seeks grant funding to improve community services and infrastructure

What service and infrastructure improvements would benefit your community?
Imagine the possibilities . . . now go for it!

Decreasing local government funds coupled with increasing material and equipment costs require government entities, first responders and non-profit organizations to seek grants to cover the expenses of specific projects and programs.

Little Muskingum VFD

Little Muskingum VFD recently purchased
this 4WD Rescue Squad
with funding from various grants.

Recent Extension efforts in Washington County have resulted in grant funding for new fire safety equipment.  The  Little Muskingum Volunteer Fire Department, a rural volunteer department, was able to purchase a new four-wheel drive rescue squad. Community Development Block Grant, Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund, Marietta Community Foundation and numerous businesses and individuals contributed to the existing department funds for this life-saving equipment that serves over 1700 residents in a four-township area.

Economic growth and development relies on infrastructure to expand community resources. Financing for local public infrastructure improvement is provided by the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC). Emergency road and bridge repair assistance for qualifying projects that pose an immediate threat is a part of the OPWC funding program.

In times of federal and/or state declared disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA) offer communities financial assistance in recovery from damages due to disasters. Through Emergency Management Performance Grants-Special Projects Program (EMPG) our county was able to renovate an existing building for a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center. During disasters, this center coordinates the response activities of multiple agencies.

Grant funding is competitive and requires research, planning, organizing and writing. OSU Extension professionals are available to help you learn more about grant writing.

More information on the grant opportunities mentioned above is available at:

(Submitted by Darlene Lukshin, Program Specialist, Washington County & Buckeye Hills EERA.)

Local leaders learn to engage residents to create shared vision

The residents of every community are an enormous pool of untapped power. Daily they make decisions based on their vision of the future that positively and negatively affect the community. None of those individual decisions will send a community in a decidedly positive or negative direction, but the aggregate of the multiple decisions will. As such, the way leaders engage residents may be the most important and most useful of all leadership activities. It may also be the most difficult.

Possible - Chet 2014-10-02In the 23rd Edition of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service done by Harvard University, only 30% of those surveyed said they trusted local government to do the right thing all or most of the time. In a society that is increasingly distrustful of government and institutions, now more than ever our leaders need to make positive change through civic engagement. But how can a leader productively bring a large number of community members with broadly diverging values and ideas together to create a shared vision?

In the Strengths Based Local Government Leadership Academy participants learn a civic engagement process called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that has been used worldwide to help communities (and groups numbering as many as 3000) to reach common ground. The four-phase AI process starts with an inquiry into community strengths; an area where communities have the most consensus. It then turns to questions that reveal the most important visions for the future. The third phase focuses on what the community believes it should work on first and leads to the outline of an action plan. The final phase is directed at how the action plan will be implemented. During the academy participants not only experience the AI process, they learn the theory behind it so they can adapt it to multiple uses in their communities.

For more information, contact Chet Bowling.

(Submitted by Chet Bowling, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist.)