Cleveland Climate Action Plan Updated

A growing consensus among experts indicates that the climate in northeast Ohio is changing. Temperature extremes are becoming pronounced, with more heat waves in the summer and a greater frequency of extreme rain storms. Without action these trends will likely continue, exposing already vulnerable populations to increased natural hazards. The City of Cleveland is helping its residents adapt to the changing climate by engaging in climate action planning. By producing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) the City is not only helping local stakeholders mitigate the effects of climate change, but also creating economic, environmental, and socially equitable benefits for all Clevelanders.

Climate Action Plan

Credit: City of Cleveland

In 2018 the City of Cleveland led a collaborative process of updating its already existing plan for climate action. Cleveland first produced a CAP in 2013, which has led to undeniable water and air quality improvements, increased usage of solar and wind energy, and the inception of innovative sustainability programs like a city-wide bike share system and municipal tree plan. The 2018 updates seek to build on the progress of the original CAP and increase attention in four areas: (1) social and racial equity, (2) green jobs, (3) resilience to the impacts of climate change, and (4) business leadership.

Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University Extension participated in efforts to update the 2018 CAP by serving on the Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC), along with representatives from local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, technical experts, and concerned residents. In addition to producing the actual action plan, the CAAC helped organize and inform community workshops where more than 300 local residents were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and priorities for climate action in their respective communities.

The framework for the CAP is organized around five focus areas that constitute the main objectives, goals, and actions needed to help build climate resilience. The focus areas include: energy efficiency and green building; clean energy; sustainable transportation; clean water and vibrant green space; and more local food and less waste. Each focus area is investigated in detail in the CAP, as well as how it impacts the City’s carbon footprint.

For those interested in learning more about Cleveland’s CAP, you can access an online version here. More information on sustainability efforts in and around Cleveland can also be found at www.sustainablecleveland.org, or by visiting the webpage for the Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. We all have a role to play in climate adaptation, and Cleveland’s CAP is a great roadmap for northeast Ohioans eager to get started.


Scott Hardy is an Extension educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Recognizing excellence: Connecting resources for positive community change

How do we achieve excellence? We stop what we are doing, stand back, and assess efforts. At this point we are better able to recognize special accomplishments.

Raymond Schindler

Raymond A. Schindler

The Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award is named in honor of Raymond A. Schindler, one of the first Extension CD professionals in Ohio. Hired in 1962 as an Area Extension Agent, Ray began his career in southern Ohio, based in Highland County. He took a collaborative approach to his work, focusing on tourism development, comprehensive planning, planning commissions, and business retention and expansion programs until his retirement in 1988.

Today, we recognize Extension CD professionals with The Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award. The annual award seeks to recognize:

  • long term strengths in teaching and research
  • a long-standing record of teamwork and collaboration in program planning, implementation and evaluation
  • a successful track record in grant awards, cost recovery, or other external funding
Susan Colbert

Susan Colbert

Just last week (January 24), we recognized Susan Colbert with the Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award for her ability to develop and deliver multidisciplinary, evidence-based programs in collaboration with colleagues, stakeholders, private industry and state and federal funding partners that empower others to affect positive change. Since joining Ohio State University Extension in 1998, she has truly demonstrated a record of excellence in creative and scholarly work, teaching and service to community and profession.

Click here to learn more about Susan and her work.


Greg Davis

Greg Davis, professor and assistant director, OSU Extension CD.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Engaging Social Media Users through Videos

In our fast-paced social media driven world, pictures and videos help tell the stories that are taking place around us every day. There have been many studies done that have shown that time on digital media has replaced time once spent reading.

At the Delaware County Extension office, we realized short, exciting videos are one of the ways to reach followers, so we began making videos. What kind of videos, you might ask? Videos demonstrating different trials of our On-Farm Research throughout the state. These trials are also featured in the eFields report that was just released at the beginning of January.

People looking at a computer

Since videos are becoming more popular when it comes to telling a story, I want to offer some tips and suggestions when it comes to shooting videos that you are going to post on a social media outlet.

First, think about the story you want to tell. The best videos don’t just “happen.” It is important to have a plan before going out to shoot. For example, before heading to the farm to shoot, we sat down with the Extension educator to discuss the story we wanted to tell through the video. A couple important factors that go into this process are prompting your speakers-in our case they were the farmers-with the questions you want them to address. We also knew that we needed a lot of b-roll footage. Tip: You need way more b-roll footage than you ever thought possible. Have someone on your production team record footage the entire time you are there!

Next, you will want to consider how to make your video unique. You don’t want to create a video of a talking head. That is extremely boring, and your viewers will lose interest in record time. Think of fun, interactive, engaging things for the speaker to do while you film. For example, we chose a theme for each video we produced and then had the educator and farmer partake in said theme. The Western theme has been by far and away the most popular – saddle up, cowboy!

Cell phone videoThe most important tip: Always, always, always record footage and take photos horizontally if you are using a smart phone. You will understand why when you reach the point of actually producing your video.

One final thought I will leave with you: Check your acoustics before you record. Don’t record in a windy field, the inside of a combine cab while harvesting, or even while the neighbor is mowing the lawn. This will leave you frustrated when you get back to the office.

Enjoy this trailer of one of our popular On-Farm Research videos!


Kenzie JohnstonKenzie Johnston, OSU Extension educator, CD/ANR, Delaware County.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Government shutdowns . . . What about them?

As of the writing of this blog post (1/14/19) we are 24 days into the partial shutdown of our federal government. This is the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The next closest was 21 days in 1995-1996 under President Bill Clinton. I found myself wondering why shutdowns happen, what circumstances lead to them, when have they happened, and how long have they lasted. And, what impact does this have on people, communities, and the economy?

Why do shutdowns happen?

US CapitolGovernmental shutdowns occur when disagreements over programs, policies, approaches, expenditures, etc. between the various elected bodies cannot be resolved. This “deadlock” can result in Congress failing to pass appropriation bills/continuing resolutions or the President refusing to sign such bills or resolutions. Since 1976 there have been 22 “gaps” in federal funding. Shutdowns can also occur at the state, territory, and local level, but this blog post will focus only on the federal government.

A key legislative trigger of government shutdowns is the Antideficiency Act (ADA). Originally legislated by Congress in 1884, the Act has been modified a number of times since. Generally, the ADA relates to Article One of the United States Constitution (the power of the purse) which provides that, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” In 1980 and 1981, the then Attorney General issued two opinions that were stricter interpretations of the ADA, setting the stage for government shutdowns when funds are not sufficient or available to continue government operations, for example, or an annual appropriation has not been approved. Appropriations are “…the provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes.”

Shutdowns can be partial, as is the case in this current situation. That means that some government departments/agencies are able to continue to operate because their budgets have been approved already and funds have been appropriated.

So, in short, failure to reach agreement on an issue, resulting in the inability to appropriate dollars and pass a temporary or annual budget, or the president’s unwillingness to sign a budget bill or veto what is presented to him, forces “non-essential” governmental agencies and employees to cease operations or “shut down.”

What are the impacts of a government shutdown?

Impacts on Government employees and agencies

Partial government shutdowns impact employees, contractors, agency operations, public services, and the overall economy. The ADA is targeted to federal employee/federal agency actions by prohibiting the authorization or making of expenditures, incurring of financial obligations, and accepting voluntary services before a funding appropriation has been made.

Potential violations of the ADA are investigated by the government (GAO and Inspector General), and the act has consequences for both agencies and individuals who violate it. Although no one has been indicted or convicted in the Act’s 120-year history, changes in agreements and punitive administrative actions against employees have been routinely made.

In 10 of the 22 shutdowns, including this current one, government employees have been furloughed. As of last Friday, there will be no paychecks for approximately 800,000 government employees. Of that number, 380,000 employees who perform emergency work involving the health or safety of human life or protection of property – essential services and public safety fields – are still required to work but will not receive pay. This includes law enforcement, Coast Guard, corrections officers, customs/border protection, forest service firefighters, National Weather Service employees, and TSA. Receiving back pay is not automatic – Congress needs to pass authorizing legislation. Last Thursday Congress voted to approve back pay for furloughed and unpaid government workers. The President indicated that he would sign the bill. (Source: https://www.govexec.com/management/2019/01/senate-unanimously-passes-legislation-providing-back-pay-furloughed-feds/154090/)

Government Departments and Agencies Affected

Nine of fifteen cabinet–level departments and many agencies have been impacted by the current partial shutdown. Those agencies that had already received their appropriations, and are therefore unaffected, include the Defense Department and Department of Health and Human Services. Department/agencies impacted by the shutdown include Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, National Park Service, Homeland Security, IRS, and others.

Impact on Ohio

The impact of the shutdown is being felt by states across the U.S. to greater or lesser degrees. The number of governmental employees furloughed in impacted federal agencies (National Park Service, for example) is often a determining factor. In Ohio, the offices and visitors center of National Historic sites such as William Howard Taft and the interpretive center of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are closed. In Cincinnati, EPA workers have been furloughed. Home buyers seeking government loans are facing delays. In rural areas, Department of Agriculture loans are not being issued. The Federal District Court and Court of Appeals in Ohio are not operating. While the grounds of National Park sites may be open, there are no government workers to pick up trash, conduct maintenance, or clean bathrooms. Some park sites that are operated by private groups remain open. It is advisable to contact each site before visiting. (Source: http://radio.wosu.org/post/how-federal-government-shutdown-affecting-ohio#stream/0)

History of Government Shutdowns since 1980

Since 1980 there have been 10 government shutdowns that have resulted in employee furloughs and disruptions in government services. They have ranged in length from less than one day (1984 & 1986) to our current shutdown of 24 days. 

Government shutdowns since 1980

Final Thoughts

There have been many instances of government shutdowns over our recent history. They usually arise over disagreements in priorities and budget allocations among Republicans and Democrats and between the President and Congress (or some combination thereof). Gaps in funding occur when disagreements are not resolved before the end of an existing budget cycle. The 1980 shutdown, occurring just days after the Attorney General’s opinion regarding the ADA, was the first time a government agency stopped operations as the result of a funding gap. Since then, there have been nine more that have resulted in funding gaps forcing government employee furloughs and department/agency curtailment of operations. These events have an impact either directly or indirectly on individuals and communities throughout the U.S.

Shutdowns are unique to the U.S. form of government. Most European nations operate under a Parliamentary system in which the executive needs the continued approval of the legislature to continue in power. The failure of budget passage is attributed to the executive and usually triggers an election. In other types of presidential systems, the executive branch of the government has the power to keep the government operating even without a budget.

The ultimate length of this shutdown and the resulting impact remains to be seen. What will be especially interesting is the method by which it is resolved and the structure and conditions reached in what becomes the final compromise.

The following web sites provide further information on the 2018-2019 and other government shutdowns:

http://radio.wosu.org/post/how-federal-government-shutdown-affecting-ohio#stream/0

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/11/18177101/government-shutdown-longest-workers-agencies-charts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_government_shutdown_of_2018%E2%80%932019

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/09/25/here-is-every-previous-government-shutdown-why-they-happened-and-how-they-ended/?utm_term=.2623124a5119

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divided_government_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdowns_in_the_United_States#1980

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdowns_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antideficiency_Act

https://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/appropriation.htm

https://www.gao.gov/legal/appropriations-law-decisions/resources


Myra MossMyra Moss, associate professor and Extension educator, OSU Extension – Community Development


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Keeping Unity in the Community

Do you know that it is generally recommended that housing expenses shouldn’t be more than 30% of what you earn, leaving 70% of your income for food, clothing, and other necessities?

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 12 million renters and homeowners are spending more than 50% of their income on housing, including utilities, thereby making it difficult for families to afford other necessities, i.e. transportation, clothes, food, entertainment, medical care, etc. Towards this end, in many American cities middle and upper income people are moving into neighborhoods that had previously suffered disinvestment and decay. These severely “house cost burdened” families want and/or need to move into sustainable neighborhoods accessible to more transportation options, affordable housing, jobs, businesses, services, and social activities.

These new residents renovate housing, stimulate business, and contribute to the tax base. Additionally, you have investors, who are purchasing these properties from low income families and stripping them of their equity, legacy, and property, which they worked hard to obtain and maintain for their children and grandchildren. These benefits of neighborhood revitalization are, in some cases, achieved at a potentially serious cost: the displacement of existing neighborhood residents by eviction, excessive code violations, increased property values/taxes, rent increases, changing demographics, etc.

Unfortunately, this may contribute to divisiveness, animosity, or ill feelings between longtime and new neighbors. This is quite unfortunate because what makes these central city neighborhoods and  residents so special is their “sense of community” which has helped residents survive and thrive throughout the years!

There are strategies that can and/or should be implemented to safeguard longtime renters and homeowners, thereby bringing peace and unity in the community. Some strategies should include the examination of federal, state, and local policies toward neighborhood reinvestment and displacement, including various alternative approaches for dealing with this issue.

I applaud the City of Columbus and Franklin County Board of Commissioners for taking the initiative to be proactive in bringing unity in the community by preserving some stability in up-and-coming neighborhoods by:

  • Establishing a Community Land Trust, which will contribute to the preservation of mixed income neighborhoods.
  • Working with Developers to make sure a percentage of their housing development and employment opportunities are set aside for residents of various socio-economic strata!
  • Offering the Homestead Tax Exemptions for low income senior citizens or disabled, who own and occupy their properties.

An example of another innovative strategy implemented in other major cities includes:

  • Longtime Owner Occupancy Program (LOOP) – reducing or freezing property taxes to promote neighborhood stability and provide a dividend of sorts to those families who remained in the neighborhoods through the years of high crime, population loss, disinvestment, and declining property values (Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia).

Lastly, on a neighborhood level, there are strategies residents themselves are implementing to make a difference, including but not limited to the following:

For example, some of the activities Weinland Park residents have been involved in:

  • Community Connectors – resident leaders, who advocate; market programs; organize events and bring diverse residents together, i.e. Rally in the Alley
  • Community Clean-Ups – neighborhood focused beautification and clean-up efforts
  • Community Civic Association – a group of residents and stakeholders who meet monthly and make decisions about the community, i.e. housing, safety, youth, etc.
  • Community Zumba – a Latin inspired dance fitness class offered weekly for area residents, thereby affording children, youth, and adults of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to get acquainted and have fun with one another
  • Community Gardens – residents, who use gardening as an opportunity to interact and get acquainted with other children, youth, and adults in the neighborhood

Weinland Park

Planting tree

To learn more about OSU Extension – Community Development and what they’re doing to bring unity in your community, county, or throughout the State of Ohio, feel free to visit our website.


Susan Colbert Susan Colbert is the Franklin County Extension Program Director for Expansion and Engagement.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Partnering for Environmental Protection

The Ohio Clean Marinas Program is a partnership initiative between Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) through their Division of Parks and Watercraft and the Office of Coastal Management. The program supports marinas across Ohio by providing education and technical assistance on environmental topics and promoting a voluntary, incentive-based certification program to recognize those marinas that go above and beyond environmental regulations.

Boat Bottom Power Washing

Regulatory changes are affecting a common practice in the marina industry – boat bottom power washing.

In 2018, a change in stormwater and wastewater regulations for the marina industry created a demand from marina businesses for guidance and clarification on these topics. In response to this need, the Ohio Clean Marinas Program collaborated with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and administer a series of educational workshops across Ohio to provide guidance to marina owners on how to comply with the new regulatory changes. The “Stormwater and Wastewater Workshops for Marinas” project was funded through an Ohio EPA Environmental Education Fund grant, with financial and in-kind match provided by ODNR and Ohio Sea Grant. The workshops provided education on best practices that would help marinas advance action on non-point source pollution at their facilities.

Over 60 marina owners, natural resource managers, and other interested parties participated in the workshops, with 58 percent of workshop attendees noting that they learned new information from the Ohio Clean Marinas Program on stormwater, wastewater management, and coastal resiliency that they can use, and 42 percent of workshop attendees committing to take the information provided by Ohio EPA during the workshop to inform future decision making. In preparation for the workshops, Ohio EPA developed a fact sheet in partnership with Ohio Clean Marinas Program staff to help marina owners understand the new regulatory changes, as well as offer options and guidance for compliance.

Sotrmwater & wastewater workshops

In response for a need for guidance on stormwater and wastewater changes, the Ohio Clean Marinas Program hosted a series of in-person workshops featuring lecture and field portions with experts presenting on these topics.

Since its inception in 2003, the Ohio Clean Marianas Program has worked with state, federal, and local agencies, marina owners, and marina trades industry associations to achieve a balance between environmental sustainability and economic stability for the marina industry in Ohio. There are currently 79 certified Clean Marinas, and a recently launched tiered certification program enables marinas to demonstrate further environmental stewardship by achieving a gold or platinum status. A complete list of Ohio Clean Marinas can be found here.

Program staff also run an annual Ohio Marina Conference to provide technical assistance and professional development on current topics of interest to marinas. The 2019 conference will be held February 20 at the Catawba Island Club. Contact ohiocleanmarinas@osu.edu to register.


References:

Stormwater and Wastewater Workshops for Ohio Marinas: https://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/calendar/2018/09/12/1eyk4/marina-stormwater-workshops

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Marina Wash Water Fact Sheet: https://www.epa.ohio.gov/Portals/35/permits/Marina-Wash-Water-2018.pdf

Great Lakes Clean Marinas Map: http://go.osu.edu/GLCleanMarinasMap


The above mentioned workshop was funded by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Ohio Environmental Education Fund and its mission to enhance Ohio citizens’ awareness and understanding of environmental issues.

Sarah OrlandoSarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas Program Manager, Ohio Sea Grant College Program, 419-609-4120, orlando.42@osu.edu, @SarahAOrlando.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

Workforce Health Advanced by STEM Programming, Body and Mind Workout Challenges

Technology is changing the American workforce and workplace. The workforce is becoming more diverse, demanding multidisciplinary job skills, necessitating continuous learning, higher levels of collaborative work, and greater reliance on technology. The organization of work is adapting and promoting towards a highly educated workforce whose work products are complex problem solving and solution driven rather than traditional service delivery or product manufacturing. With these changes, workers are experiencing greater psychological demands in addition to demands for higher levels of productivity.[i] To combat these dueling demands, Extension programming is focusing on a healthy body and mind working together; the two systems work and support each other’s success.

“To succeed in a work environment of rapid change requires workers to be mentally and physically prepared, adaptable, and resilient—in a word, healthy.”
– Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

My Extension programming in Pickaway County is STEM driven,[ii] and as an Extension educator, I experience first-hand the demands of continuous learning. In order to teach effectively, educators must continue to learn; the more educators can learn and adapt, the more they can teach and innovate their Extension programming. In addition, applying more technology is critical to the learning and teaching process. Continuous learning is foundational to developing robust STEM programming that requires working across program areas and disciplines to develop healthy minds in active problem-based learning. This type of programming also requires more connections to real-world problems, employers, authentic situations, and solution seeking designs. One example is “design thinking” processes, which are vital to the incoming workforce mode of operating.

WHY?

It takes more than one subject, field, or skill to solve real-world problems. Embracing a tech driven lifelong learning approach is becoming the new norm, but only while ensuring that the body and mind are working together. A healthy active mind requires a healthy active body to carry it; again, the two systems work and support each other.

 

Photographed by Meghan Thoreau. FCS Extension educators and SNAP-Ed program assistants experiencing the PhysBot Wearable Technology at the 2018 FCS Conference: Building Well Connected Communities.[iii]

BODY AND MIND TECH PROGRAMS

Educator Focused PhysBot Challenges. This fall at the 2018 Annual FCS Conference: Building Well Connected Communities, I led a hands-on health tech session with the support of Patty House, educator, Ohio 4-H youth development (4-H), and Bob Horton, STEM specialist, 4-H; (presentation link). We interpreted the conference theme with a STEM undercurrent, connecting communities through applied technology. We engaged both FCS Extension educators and SNAP-Ed program assistants from across the state in wearable technology and the importance of maintaining active lifestyles, by exploring the PhysBot Data Tracker, a wearable device that tracks your body movements and health data – inspiring healthy minds at work. The PhysBot technology was developed through an Ohio-based partnership between Ohio 4-H youth development, Big Kitty Labs, and Tiny Circuits. The PhysBot kits are accessible, affordable, and include the following components:

To learn more or to order a PhysBot Kit, visit: ohio4h.org/physbots.

Order your PhysBot Kit

Youth Focus PhysBot Challenges. This winter I also developed a Body and Mind STEM Program for Teays Valley School District’s afterschool STEM Club for elementary students. The body and brain need a mix of activity and mind challenges to stay fit and productive. Teens need at least 60-minutes of activity every day, where adults can get away with 150 minutes/week![iv] Wearable technology is growing and becoming a popularized accessory for all ages. It’s estimated that in 2019 almost 90-million people in the U.S. will be wearing some form of wearable technology.[v]

Body and Mind Challenges

Photographed by Meghan Thoreau. Elementary students participating in STEM Club’s Body and Mind Challenges.[vi]

The PhysBot breaks down wearable technology and allows youth to see and understand all the working components. The students learned how to calculate their resting heartbeats by hand. Then they put on their individual PhysBot to compare their heartbeats per minute (BPM) through an LED pulse sensor. Finally, the students were led to engage in different physical fitness challenges while monitoring their hearts’ BPMs. Participants could also download their data to a computer by downloading free PhysBot software to continue investigating their physical activity results. Below is a short video highlighting the youths’ PhysBot challenges:

Produced by Meghan Thoreau. Elementary students participating in
STEM Club’s PhysBot Wearable Tech and Fitness Challenges.

The young STEMists[vii] learned that physical fitness matters, but they were also later challenged with strategic mind workouts to emphasize the importance of the body and mind working together!

 “When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right.”
-Fiona Apple

International Strategic Board Game Challenges. Coming up with strategies and tactics to solve challenges and problems requires the 21st Century Skillset. November’s STEM Club programming focused on discovering new ways to plot winning strategies. These strategy activities can foster more strategic thinking skills in general that can help with real-life scenarios. Practicing strategizing skills is important, and exposing youth to international strategic board games is a means to continue playing and learning. The more these types of games are played, the better students will be at coming up with winning strategies and making smart decisions for a lifetime. The games played came from around the world: Chess (India), Five Field Kono (Korea), Backgammon (the Middle East), Fox and Geese (Northern Europe), and Mū Tōrere (New Zealand).

Strategy Games

WHY ARE STRATEGY GAMES SO IMPORTANT?

Strategy games are great for learning life skills, such as patience, self-control, and thinking critically. These types of games teach emotional competence and help people learn to control their impulses; not to make a decision immediately, but rather wait for a better, more effective opportunity to present itself and act on. This mode of thinking can also help weigh through some of the psychological demands found in today’s workplace.

Strategic games help people learn to evaluate other factors at play. Players realizing that their next decision may actually cause more problems for them or may potentially lead to a strategic advantage for either them or their opponent. Strategy games also help set and maintain goals which then require many avenues of thought, and decisions have to be sorted through to remain on the goal centered path. People start thinking of the next move, but in reality, they are looking further ahead, thinking how their next move will lead to their next decision. It is that skill of anticipating the counter move that leads to making smart decisions in life. These games teach people, especially youth, to make decisions after identifying the alternatives available to them and anticipating the possible consequences. And that is the basis to critical thinking. Here is a short video highlighting the strategic game challenges:

Produced by Meghan Thoreau. Elementary students participating in
STEM International Strategic Board Game Challenges.

BONUS

The timing of the strategic game portion of the program could not have been more perfectly unplanned, because the 2018 World Chess Championship was going on simultaneously and making international headlines both in print and on the radio. Fabiano Caruana v. Magnus Carlsen – Carlsen became World Champion in 2013 by defeating Viswanathan Anand. In the following year, he retained his title against Anand, and won both the 2014 World Rapid Championship and World Blitz Championship, thus becoming the first player to simultaneously hold all three titles. He defended his main world title against Sergey Karjakin in 2016. Stories were being published like, The Magnus Effect: Norway Falls Hard for Chess, How Magnus Carlsen is Making Chess Cool and Wearing his Rivals Down, Chess on the Rise in Primary Schools, or Fabiano Caruana – the American Helping Make Chess Cool. It is important to note that Caruana is an American. The last time an American won the World Chess Championship was back in 1972 by Bobby Fischer! Ultimately, Carlsen retained his title and was victorious over Caruana, but the ripple effects of their chess matches excited the world into learning and playing more chess!

REMEMBER

A healthy worker is one who realizes that the body and mind are a working system that internally promotes a healthy worker and workforce, and advocates for a healthier community and world at large. Technology in the workplace does not lessen the need for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Healthy workers have greater stamina to live and work in America’s changing workforce.

Active Healthy Minds

Youth Sport Trust, Working. 2016. Active Healthy Minds. 2016 Youth Sport Trust Conference Presentation.[viii]


[i] Institute of Medicine. 2005. Integrating Employee Health: A Model Program for NASA. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11290. https://www.nap.edu/read/11290/chapter/5.

[ii] STEM, an acronym of disciplines, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but do not get caught up on representing the correct combination; e.g. F-STEM, STEAM, STREAM, STEA2M, that becomes distracting and irrelevant to what the meaning represents. Think of STEM has a verb, stem, stemming together a multitude of any applicable disciplines to collaborating and solving the problems at hand. Solutions are derived from a blend of subjects, such as, philosophy, politics, culture, science, language, emotions, biology, the environment, anthropology, geology, etc.

[iii] Thoreau, M. October 2018. PhysBot: Tech FCS Workout Challenges. 2018 FCS Conference: Building Well Connected Communities. Marriott Airport, Columbus, Ohio.

[iv] Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Youth Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. CDC Healthy Schools, Physical Education and Physical Activity. Retrieved at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm.

[v] Statista. 2018. Number of wearable device users in the U.S. 2014-2019. Technology and Telecommunication, consumer electronics. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/543070/number-of-wearable-users-in-the-us/.

[vi] Thoreau, M. November 2018. PhysBot: STEM Club Body and Mind Challenges. Teays Valley School District STEM Club. Retrieved from: https://u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/2018/12/13/physbot-fitness-and-strategic-board-game-challenges/

[vii] Team Groovy created the definition of the word “STEMist” because children are natural engineers and had to have a title to support their multidisciplinary applied curiosity.

[viii] Youth Sport Trust, Working. 2016. Active Healthy Minds. 2016 Youth Sport Trust Conference Presentation. Ricoh Arena. Coventry, England. Retrieved from: https://www.slideshare.net/YouthSportTrust/2016-conference-active-healthy-minds.


Meghan ThoreauMeghan Thoreau, educator, community development (CD), Ohio State University Extension-Pickaway County.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

If I could do it all over again…

ReflectingThis year marked my eighteenth year with OSU Extension and 28 years overall in public service. It seems like just yesterday that I started my public administration career as a 21-year-old administrative assistant. Now that I am considered one of the ‘more-seasoned’ professionals with the organization, I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of Extension colleagues. Reflecting on what I wish I’d have known when first starting out, for the benefit of our newer hires I have developed and shared a number of items, some of which are listed below.

  1. Don’t overcommit. Our calendars can fill up quickly.  I caution you to be comfortable first with your chosen expertise and the amount of time you have dedicated to it before you decide to take on additional responsibilities.
  2. Find an encouraging mentor. It is important to be able to share your concerns with someone you can trust. A positive mentor can help with your focus and provide a sounding board when you are in need of a listening ear.
  3. Get to know your co-workers. It goes without saying that you can very easily spend more time with your co-workers than your family. It is important to get to know them personally and to be able to share success stories with them.
  4. Celebrate an achievement. It is okay to celebrate after completing a project. In Extension, we often go on to the next project without stopping for a moment to enjoy what we just completed.
  5. Understand your career goal. We all can get caught up in the day-to-day work style and before you know it, a year is almost over. Take time to think about your career goals and create plans to achieve them.
  6. Before moving on to another project or class to teach, take a few minutes every day to reflect on what you are doing and what you want to do going forward. Think about how these tasks and activities advance your career plans.
  7. Have fun, learn to laugh, and improvise when needed. One time I thought I sent my PowerPoint slides to the moderator for a presentation at an international conference but evidently forgot. Instead of panicking in front of 50 people, I took a deep breath and rolled with it. Thinking that the presentation was terrible, many in the audience came up to me after and thanked me for not having a PowerPoint as they were tired of seeing them and welcomed the change.
  8. Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes we can get too comfortable where we are. If you begin to feel that is happening to you, look for ways to step out beyond your comfort zone. When your work no longer inspires at work, it is time to expand your horizons.
  9. Join a professional organization and become an active member. I learned a long time ago that professional organizations can be a great place to meet fellow professionals and allow you time to learn from others. Attend and present at the conferences. Serve in leadership roles.
  10. Lead the way. In any situation, a leader is very important. If you have ever found yourself in a situation where no one is leading, guess what? It is time for you to step-up. As they say, sometimes the first step is often the hardest.

I have others that I could easily share, but I will stop at 10 and wait to hear from you. Take a minute and in the comment section below, add your best advice to the list.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo is an associate professor and field specialist, community economics, OSU Extension CD.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

A Deeper Dive into Food Security

It’s the holidays, and I’m sure you’ve already had a variety of requests from charities and non-profits asking you to help families in need this season. For some of us, food insecurity can seem non-existent because it is not our personal everyday experience and is often not visible. For others, it is an experience (even after overcome) that is a part of our everyday thoughts.

Food insecurity is a complex problem that is both difficult to understand and difficult to solve. The underlying causes of food insecurity include things such as poverty, unemployment or underemployment, access to healthy food, etc., all of which are often deeply interconnected.

For over 20 years, the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has put out an annual report for the state of food security in the U.S. These reports are a great resource for helping begin to understand the magnitude and complexity of food insecurity. The 2017 report is forty-four pages in length and provides a deeper dive into one of our country’s most challenging issues. It may or may not shock you that over 15 million households (11.8%) in the U.S. were classified as food insecure, meaning they had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. While the number of food insecure households has declined since 2011, this number is above the pre-recession (2007) level of 11.1%; we should not gloss over this fact. Further, 5.8 million households (4.5%) were classified as having very low food security, meaning the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited resources.

As a bit of a self-admitted data nerd, I love statistics. However, I recognize how quantitative data can remove or mask the human element or experience of a phenomenon. While all of the numbers listed above are powerful and help us understand the magnitude of food insecurity, they can fail to remind us that food insecurity is also a lived experience. In the 2017 report, the USDA ERS conducted a qualitative survey of households classified as having low food security, which represented 5.8 million households nationwide. From their survey, the following experiences were reported:

  • 99% reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
  • 97% reported that the food they bought just did not last and they did not have money to get more.
  • 95% reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
  • 96% reported that an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food; 88% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.
  • 93% reported that they had eaten less than they felt they should because there was not enough money for food.
  • 68% reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food.
  • 48% reported having lost weight because they did not have enough money for food.
  • 30% reported that an adult did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food; 24% reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.

You might be thinking, what does this mean for our families in Ohio? When looking at the average prevalence of household food insecurity from 2015-2017, Ohio ranks 13th for the highest food insecurity with 13.7% of households classified as food insecure; that’s approximately 640,000 households. To give you some context, New Mexico is ranked number one with 17.9% of their population classified as food insecure and Hawaii is ranked 51st with 7.4% of their population classified as food insecure. In terms of very low food security, Ohio ranks 11th with 6.1% of our population (285,000 households) in the more severe range where meals are often skipped. Again for context, Louisiana ranks number one with 7.1% of their population having very low food security and Hawaii is again ranked 51st. While it may be difficult to admit, Ohio is not faring so well.

A deeper dive into food insecurity can be overwhelming for many. The data can be daunting and the complexity of the issue can leave us feeling helpless. But remember that small acts of kindness can have meaningful community impacts. As someone who gets to see the impact of grassroots level food security work every day in my job, I encourage you to engage in a service project in your community this season to help feed families in need. Whether you donate items, money, or more importantly, your time, you can help join the fight against hunger.

Amanda OsborneWhat will you do to help fight hunger in your community? To learn more about food insecurity contact Amanda Osborne, educator, community development (CD), OSU Extension-Cuyahoga County.


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Make It a Debate, Not an Argument

Have you ever been paging through an article and stumble across a quote that just stops you in your tracks? Here’s one attributed to Adlai Stevenson that recently caught my eye. Stevenson was talking about political campaigns, but I think the idea can be applied to many situations. He said that the challenge was to not just win, but to win “without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” I think that sentiment speaks to integrity, grace, and fair-mindedness.

Recently some of my colleagues and I were at a retreat, sharing information about helping facilitators manage decision making and conflict in groups. I realized that Stevenson’s sentiment can also be applied to helping groups make decisions.

discussionOne of the trickiest situations for a facilitator can be encountering and effectively handling disagreements among group participants. Making decisions in groups is difficult and often messy, but helping a group make complex decisions is one of the most important tasks of a facilitator. The lively discussion that is part of the group decision making process, however, often involves people who feel passionately about their ideas, and sometimes that passion can escalate to a discourse that is unhelpful at best, and can often be damaging to the group or individuals involved.

The facilitator’s job is to create an environment where sharing a diversity of ideas is viewed as an important part of the process to create stronger, more sustainable solutions. In Facilitation at a Glance, a handy field guide to facilitation, the author, Ingrid Bens, highlights two different kinds of discussions that can occur among group members.

Bens describes productive disagreements as debates. In this type of conversation, individuals are open to the ideas of others – even when they may be different from their own. Everyone strives to understand the views and perspectives of the other group members, and remains objective and focused on the facts.

Arguments, on the other hand, are a type of discussion that is often unproductive, and may damage relationships and group momentum. According to Bens, in an argument, people assume they’re right and are often not really listening to the ideas of others. The discourse often results in personal attacks or blaming.

So how can a facilitator encourage a debate (and discourage an argument)? Bens suggests that a facilitator:

  • remain neutral,
  • restate differences so they can be understood,
  • highlight areas of agreement,
  • encourage folks to focus on the facts (not emotions or assumptions),
  • Teamworkslow down the discussion by encouraging individuals to paraphrase what they are hearing each other say and allowing only one person to speak at a time.

Creating shared agreements can help groups reach the finish line with their integrity and friendships intact. When it comes to group decision making, debates that lead to compromise and collaboration are essential to helping group members be worthy of their win.


The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.


Becky NesbittBecky Nesbitt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Educator in Community Development with OSU Extension.  For more information about Becky and her educational efforts, visit here.