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.


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.

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.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears Oh My! Have Nothing on the Plastics Invisible to the Naked Eye

plastic wave

Our water quality reality if we do not change our plastic use practices. Credit: Bonnie Monteleone (Artist)

Sometimes the scariest things are not haunted houses, the black bear near our campsite, or the Lake Erie monster roaming our shores, but rather the things we cannot easily see. If you have been watching the news lately you may be aware of these tiny particles called microplastics. Although tiny in size (5mm or smaller), they are causing a global crisis. Each year we add 8 million tons of plastic to the ocean and 22 million tons to the Great Lakes, with this number expected to increase each year. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish, and most of these plastics can only be seen with the use of a microscope.

Several studies have been conducted over the past several years addressing microplastics in organisms such as zooplankton and fish. Zooplankton and fish are shown to eat microplastics. Some of the pieces leave the body through excretion but some remain. The most current research is showing that the plastic is starting to affect how these organisms behave. Plastic ingestion has shown to alter the feeding, growth, and reproductive patterns of copepods, one of the world’s most common types of plankton and the bottom of the aquatic food web. A study conducted on fish has shown that plastics in their brain cause them to eat slower and move less.

Plastic waste - where it comes from

A diagram showing where this plastic waste is coming from and how much is created and added to the ocean each year. (Credit: Ocean Conservancy)

So we know plastic is not healthy for fish and plankton, but what about us? I’m glad you asked. Plastic has recently been found in several foods such as salt (sea salt has the highest concentration of microplastics of any of the food or liquids tested) and honey. It has also been found in beer and most alarmingly our drinking water. Bottled water has twice as much plastic contamination as tap water. The added contamination in bottled water comes from the production and placement of a plastic cap on a bottle of water. Plastic is also in the air we breathe. So we know it is in our food, drinks, and air, but does that mean it is in us? You betcha! Plastic was recently found in human waste in a study conducted in Austria.

So is this bad? Good? Sorry I don’t have the answers for you yet since this research is being conducted right now. However, we do know plastics leach chemicals that are cancer causing and disrupt our hormonal balances. And we do know that plastic affects the day to day operations of other living organisms. So it is safe to say that having plastic in your body is most likely not a good thing.

I know I have given you a lot of bleak information about this plastic situation, but there are simple steps you can take every day to limit your plastic contamination.

How can you stay as safe as possible?

  1. If you have access to safe tap water, it is a better option than bottled water in regards to plastic contamination.
  2. Switch to glass or metal drinking and eating containers.
  3. If you do use plastic, make sure you do not put hot items in the container or heat the container. Heating plastic causes the chemicals in the plastic to leach into your food or beverage.
  4. Use reusable items as much as possible to prevent future contamination of our drinking water.
  5. Say “no” to unnecessary single-use items such as straws, utensils, and bags. Bring your own or simply don’t use the single-use plastic item.
  6. Share what you are learning with others.
Zero waste starter kit

Zero waste starter kit. Credit: The Green Bicycle Co.

Endnotes:

8 million tons: Ocean Conservancy. Fighting for Trash Free Seas. Website: https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/.

copepods: Cole, M. 2014. The impacts of microplastics on zooplankton. Thesis for degree in Doctor of Philosophy for the University of Exeter.

study conducted on fish: Cedervall, T. 2017. Brain damage in fish affected by plastic nanoparticles. News and Press Releases. Lund University. Website: https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/brain-damage-in-fish-affected-by-plastic-nanoparticles.

drinking water: Bingham, M. 2018. Water: Tap, Bottled and Microplastics. Orb in the Word. Website: https://orbmedia.org/blog/water-tap-bottled-microplastics.

human waste: Parker, L. 2018. In a first, microplastics found in human poop. National Geographic. Website: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/10/news-plastics-microplastics-human-feces/


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.


Jill BartolottaJill Bartolotta is an Extension educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Community Economics Programs for Ohio (and beyond!)

The economy is humming. You may have heard recently in the news, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the addition of 250,000 new jobs in October, topping the 118,000 jobs created in September. More likely, you have seen the “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs posted in your community and throughout your travels.

Even better, the Labor Department reported that average hourly earnings increased again in October, from 2.8 percent in September and to 3.1 percent on the year. This is the largest quarterly wage gain in ten years.

David Civittolo and Eric Romich discuss the Business Retention & Expansion program as a community economics tool

Serving as a model for the world, the U.S. economic system was the subject of study during a recent three-week, multi-state visit coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) program. The SABIT program builds partnerships and provides technical assistance through training Eurasian business leaders in U.S. business practices.

The SABIT visit involved a 19-member delegation from many of the former Soviet bloc countries such as: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia. The individuals represented academic institutions, regional/state/local governments, and national business associations (e.g. ‘chambers of commerce’).

As part of the SABIT program, Ohio State University Extension CD professionals were invited to share more about the ways Extension partners with communities, agencies, and organizations in pursuit of local and regional strategies for economic development. The delegates were particularly interested in learning more about our role in:

  • Cultivating and facilitating regional collaboration and partnership frameworks (e.g. advisory/planning committee approach)
  • Identifying and supporting industry clusters
  • Community and organizational strategic planning
  • Workforce development
  • Business incubators, and
  • Building capacity of elected officials

    Myra Wilson and Eric Romich discuss Extension’s involvement in workforce development

Working through interpreters, we discussed the land-grant system, Extension, and shared recent examples of how we engage others through the application of a wide variety of community economics programs and tools. After spending a couple of hours together, they were particularly interested in learning more about how they could strengthen their partnerships with academic institutions to inform research, teaching, and engagement efforts.

Despite the language barrier, there were many questions and the discussion was lively. Some of the delegates even inquired about returning to the U.S. to study and learn more. Others were eager to extend invitations to visit them in their home countries. Collaboration truly knows no boundaries!

In short, no matter where you are, we serve to partner with you and your community to share, learn, and identify ways to strengthen the local and regional economy.

You can learn the numerous ways we might work with you throughout these blog pages. To better understand the range of what is possible, take a look at the ‘Tags’ which highlight the content found here and feel free to contact the post’s author for more info. Or contact me directly at davis.1081@osu.edu or 614-292-5942.


Greg DavisGreg Davis is a Professor and Assistant Director, OSU Extension – Community Development.

Mixing Agriculture in with Community and Youth

Ohio State University Extension is made up of several different disciplines, but they can all be intertwined into one program if we put our heads together. One example of this is a program which was developed in Adams, Brown, and Highland Counties a few years ago, called Ag Reality. Becky Cropper and Nikki Eyre were the 4-H educators, and David Dugan and John Grimes were the Agriculture and Natural Resources educators at that time in the respective counties. Becky Cropper was also the CD educator in Brown.

Young farmerThis group of educators worked with the Farm Service Agency and local high school agriculture teachers to develop a spinoff of the 4-H program Reality Check, now known as Real Money Real World. The program began with three high school agriculture programs, utilizing the juniors in the program. Each school had between 10 and 20 students that were our first students in the program.

Frankie Stith Scott and Rita Polley work with youth and adults for agricultural loans through the USDA Farm Service Agency. Frankie and Rita worked with the schools and set up a two-day training for the students. The students were trained on using budgets, farm account records, and other basics for record keeping on a farm. This training was conducted within a week prior to the full program.

Ohio farmThe full program was conducted at a central location in which students from all three schools attended. The full program simulation was basically farming for a day. The students were presented with a family situation, like married with no children or married with two children, and a family living expense was attached. They were also given a budget based on their grade point average to go along with the 300 acre farm on which to conduct business. There were seven different farms to operate given out randomly. Some were all tillable; some were partially tillable and partially wood lots. Some farms had one house, some had two, and one farm had no house. Once they had all of this to ponder, we turned them loose to farm and live.

This is where the community came in. Several business people including: insurance for crop and property, bankers, grain buyers, farm stores, cattle buyers, fertilizer and seed sales, and more. The students conducted business with these community businesses throughout the day.

The learning and strategy was amazing. The students did a great job of interacting with the businesses. The business people were impressed with the drive to excel that they saw from some students. Some later commented that they actually did business with some of the students in the weeks following the program. The students worked together in some instances, renting houses out to those that did not own a home. They bought equipment together in some cases.

We also had an auction of farm equipment. The list of items to be sold were given to the students prior to the program. A PowerPoint presentation rolled through the list of items to be auctioned during the morning. An auctioneer came in just before lunch, and we conducted an auction of the items on the list. The auctioneer explained how an auction works, and we discussed each item once it sold.

Of course a real Reality would not seem real if there were not taxes to be paid. The county Auditor was present to collect taxes during the day. We also had a logger there trying to buy all of the timber as cheap as possible.

At the end of the day we pulled a year from our history. We used the data from the National Ag Statistics Service to calculate yields and prices on crops. We then explained crop insurance, contracting grain, the value of getting bids on your timber, and much more.

This program started nearly 15 years ago. We now do a separate program in each of the three counties, and each high school in the three counties participates. Many of the same business people continue to assist with the program. We typically do the programs between November and March. If you would like to know more about the program, contact David Dugan at dugan.46@osu.edu  or call 937-544-2339.


Dave DuganDavid Dugan, educator, ANR/CD, OSU Extension-Adams County.

Building Partnerships helps Communities offer Transportation Systems that Impact Rural Quality of Life

Public Transportation

At no cost to Noble County, SEAT agreed to launch a six-month transportation pilot…

Communities with no or limited access to public transportation still exist across rural Appalachian Ohio. Nationally, only 11 percent of rural residents report having access to transportation near their home, compared to 83 percent of central cities in metropolitan statistical areas.[i] Whether it is access to transportation for Medicaid medical appointments, the need for senior citizens to get to the grocery store or other needs, limited resources can impact quality of life in a community.

The Noble County office of Ohio State University Extension researched and shared the need for more structured access to public transportation to the Noble County Board of Commissioners. While limited access to transportation exists in the greater Noble County community through eligibility-specific programs such as Veterans Services, Senior Services, or the Medicaid program, no general public transportation is available.

Identified by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) as one of only 27 counties in the state without public transportation services, and also identified by the ODOT Regional Transportation Planning Organization’s (RTPO) needs analysis and transportation opinion survey reports as lacking a coordinated transit plan or services, Noble County offered great opportunity for partnership.

Research identified several successful rural regional transportation models; and one partner, Southeast Area Transit (SEAT), a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) serving nearby Guernsey and Muskingum Counties, came to the table to offer a pilot program. At no cost to the county, SEAT agreed to launch a six-month transportation pilot to help determine service needs.

As a social determinant of health, access to high-quality, affordable transportation is fundamental to mental, physical, and emotional well-being.[ii] The partnership window initially opened with a contract between SEAT and the Noble County Job and Family Services (JFS) program for Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation. Previously providing only gas vouchers for transport, the JFS Director saw a greater need.

Additional research and conversations led to a meeting with county leaders and representatives from the transit agency which yielded a pilot program offer. The pilot program will be a hands-on opportunity to introduce services to the rural communities and further determine needs and opportunities for additional contract services and future funding options.

Barriers to rural transportation systems include long travel distances, low population density, and lack of basic public transit infrastructure (vehicles, staffing). Access to transportation impacts the well-being of rural residents with issues as varied as food access, social support, education, employment, and community and health services.

Noble County’s population trends also reveal important indicators of current and future need for community services and supports including transportation. Noble County’s population is aging; the share of the population that is 60 years and older is projected to lead the state as it continues to grow over the next 20 years (49.5%), outpacing the state’s average (28.7%).[iii] For aging and disabled populations, public transportation can also help to reduce social isolation.[iv]

Partnerships assist with identifying deficiencies, recommending improvements, and developing real-world implementation strategies (especially when rural resources are at a minimum). Partnerships can also provide coordination of services and help improve transportation reach and efficiency, as well as sustainability.

Following the pilot program, partners will consider next steps for expansion of services with the goal to provide safe, reliable, and courteous public transportation in a community where there previously was very little offered.
_______________________

[i] Promising Practices for Increasing Access to Transportation in Rural Communities – The Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis – April 2018

[ii] Rural Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities – University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center; Nov. 2017

[iii] Projections and Characteristics of the 60+ Population – Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University; Jan. 2014

[iv] Promising Practices for Increasing Access to Transportation in Rural Communities – The Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis – April 2018


Gwynn StewartGwynn Stewart, educator, CD, OSU Extension-Noble County.

Multi-University Collaboration for Sustainable Land Use Planning- A Tipping Point Planner Perrysburg, Ohio Case Study

The City of Perrysburg drains into three watersheds at the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 12 scale—Grass Creek Diversion (HUC 04000090901), Grassy Creek (HUC 04000090902), and Crooked Creek (HUC 0409000090903)—which feed into the Maumee River and, subsequently, western Lake Erie. This area was identified by Ohio Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant as an ideal location to hold a Tipping Points Planner (TPP) workshop. Through collaboration with Reveille, a local planning consultancy, Perrysburg, Ohio was identified as a potential community partner because the city is in the initial stages of preparing a comprehensive plan update.

Workshop

In total, over 55 people participated in the workshop sessions. Ohio Sea Grant, Reveille, and the City of Perrysburg led the development of a steering committee which included key stakeholders from city departments, elected officials, and the public, as well as representatives from the City of Toledo, relevant state agencies, and Wood County. The steering committee held an initial meeting on August 13, 2018 in Perrysburg, Ohio to discuss goals for the workshop series and to identify additional planning considerations that may fall outside of the purview of the Tipping Point Planner. The steering committee also identified three key focus areas for the workshop: Land Use Planning and Open Space, Green Infrastructure and Stormwater, and Nutrients and Food Webs.

The Tipping Point Planner workshop was held to support Perrysburg’s comprehensive plan update by investigating water quality issues tied to topics listed above. A public visioning session, technical tipping points data and breakout session, and an action planning workshop were held from August 13 to August 15, 2018 at Perrysburg’s City Administration Building and Way Public Library. All meetings were open the public.

During the visioning session, participants were asked a series of questions to identify community characteristics and to understand how the public values natural resources in the Perrysburg area. Participants also discussed assets and opportunities related to the three key topics described above.

During the second meeting, participants received in-depth presentations on nutrient loading, green infrastructure, and land use issues in the region. Researchers from Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Purdue University who developed the models forming the foundation of TPP presented, discussed the data, interpretations, and took questions from those in attendance.

The final meeting was an action planning session held on August 15 in which participants reviewed best management practices for watershed management using TPP. Through a facilitated discussion, action steps were identified that combined ideas developed during the previous visioning session with locally generated goals and TPP best management practices. The results comprise the final outcome of the workshop, an account of public input on land use and water quality, and a set of community based actions that incorporate best practices for addressing community water quality and quantity challenges through a comprehensive plan.

The community visioning session was facilitated by Ohio Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant facilitators. The team employed a framework called PESTLE, which is used to consider a wide range of topics from business decisions to natural resource management initiatives. The strength of this approach is that participants are encouraged to think from six perspectives: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental.

Workshop

In this session, the PESTLE framework was coupled with the SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) method of appreciative inquiry. By focusing on strengths, assets, and opportunities, within the key topic areas of Land Use Planning and Open Space, Green Infrastructure and Stormwater, and Nutrients and Food Webs, program participants were able to identify what strengths exist in the community as well as what opportunities may be possible based on their existing assets. As the workshop progressed, participants rotated between table topics and were able to provide input on all of the workshop’s three key topic areas.

Workshop

In the second meeting, the steering committee and interested individuals from the earlier community visioning session were able to choose one of the three key workshop topics to investigate using the Tipping Point Planner (TPP) Decision Support System. In a facilitated session, participants were guided through a series of maps within the TPP, and were able to manipulate various parameters within the watershed related to nutrient loads, time, and land use. This provided an opportunity for participants to visualize how changes in their watershed related to land use and nutrient loading would affect not only water quality in their local streams and rivers, but also the Lake Erie food web. A structured discussion was facilitated based on questions developed for each of the program’s three key topic areas.

Program participants engaged in a final facilitated discussion centered on identifying action strategies for each topic area. Each group was asked to identify or generate three to five goals using the community input received from the previous community vision session as well as the data and maps provided within the TPP system. Participants were facilitated through a series of questions that assisted in identifying appropriate goals and action strategies in the TPP system. Each goal was accompanied by Best Management Practices including sample ordinances, plans, community practices, incentives, and education options that were chosen by the group, and which are included in the Appendix of this report. Responsible parties, timelines and action items were also developed.

The process documented in the final report reflects in-depth public engagement with the residents and civic leadership in Perrysburg, Ohio on land use planning, stormwater, and nutrient loading issues. Participants engaged with forecasting models and provided their vision for the future. Finally, the group selected goals and strategies to work toward implementation of its vision.

 

The process is not over; as shown in the final report, there are many things left to be developed and decided. It is the hope of Ohio Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana that the community continue to collaborate on the development of their comprehensive plan and that it be inclusive or informed by the contents of this final report. Example strategies and ordinances—as well as sample plans—can be found in the appendix of the final report. These resources include digital links to websites, documents, and other tools to help establish these strategies for Perrysburg and the surrounding area.

Find more information on Tipping Point Planner here.

Visit the previous Tipping Point Planner blog article here.

View final Perrysburg, Ohio report and appendices here.


Joe LucenteJoe Lucente is an Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Community Development, Ohio Sea Grant College Program and OSU Extension.

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Growing Philanthropic Capacity in Your Community

A number of factors impact the sustainability of rural communities in Eastern Ohio. Some of the factors have a positive impact, and others provide a challenge. A challenge can lead to what we call at Ohio State University Extension-Community Development a teachable moment. Most recently, federal, state and county budgets have been tightened or money has been directed to different initiatives. This has become a teachable moment for OSU Extension-Community Development to grow philanthropic capacity in the community.

Raising Money

How did we do that and what does that mean for you? Two words come to mind….Capital Campaign. A capital campaign is an intense effort to raise significant dollars in a designated period of time for a one-time need, usually a structure or building. OSU Extension-Community Development has worked with the YMCA and Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center (SEORMC) in Guernsey County to advance their capital campaigns. These two campaigns will provide two new structures and buildings in the community.

The YMCA will have an additional 3,400 square feet of program space. The additional space makes it possible for 1,000 new members and 15 new classes for almost any age group from 2 years old through senior age adults. The SEORMC capital campaign will build a cancer center. The goal of the hospital is not just a cancer building but also supportive programs for those in treatment. These are two of several philanthropic initiatives in the community that will affect many individuals and families and contribute to the quality of life in the community.

If you are interested in building philanthropic capacity in your community, please contact OSU Extension-Community Development.


Cindy BondCindy Bond is an assistant professor and educator, community development (CD),  OSU Extension-Guernsey County.

 

The Relevance of Community Strategic Planning in Corporate Location Decision-Making

In recent years, many communities have been encouraged to invest in “greenfield” development sites as a way to attract large manufacturing and distribution operations. This is also taking place at a time when such businesses are changing the way they make decisions about where to locate and expand. These business decisions have far-reaching implications for communities. Some businesses may decide to visit and negotiate for community incentives; others may want to know what communities are doing to improve the business climate. However, these incentives alone may not secure a relocation or expansion project for the community. It is becoming apparent that businesses are also interested in the contents of a community’s strategic plan.

A community’s strategic plan might not seem important. However, when it considers things such as a community’s workforce, business attraction and retention approaches, and an integration of economic and community development, the plan can be very helpful in expediting the site selection process.

How can strategic planning help businesses decide where to locate?

Companies look for employees with experience in cutting-edge manufacturing, robotics, and other fields. A strategic plan enables community leaders to bring existing key business and educational institution leaders together to discuss each other’s needs and find solutions for them.

Community members participate in community strategic planning process

Community members share in the community strategic planning process.

Although attracting new businesses is a common economic development strategy, research indicates that about 80 percent of all new jobs in a community come from existing businesses. A strategic plan that takes into account the need to retain and expand a community’s existing businesses may indicate to potential new businesses that the community is dedicated to assisting its businesses to become more competitive.

Companies want to see how communities foster social and economic integration by the way they plan to address local issues such as housing, education, healthcare, and cultural diversity. They also want to see how all stakeholders — residents, community-based organizations, public agencies, and the private sector — work together to promote residents and community quality of life.

Fayette County, Ohio recently revised and updated its strategic plan to provide a vision and a vehicle for creating short- and long-term community and economic growth for residents and businesses in the community. The vision considered all the vital elements: workforce, business attraction and retention, and importance of integration of economic and community development. The community’s workforce plan involves implementing youth workforce programs, including a Manufacturing Day Tour and a Career Expo for high school students.

The community’s business retention and expansion strategies support and develop existing businesses. This pro-business attitude can add to the attractiveness of the community as an excellent environment for new businesses. Most importantly, the community has nearly 1800 acres of “greenfield” development acreage (1,600 acres for the county and 200 acres for the City of Washington Court House). These “greenfield” development sites have infrastructure, including utilities and water, available on site for investors seeking a business location.

Community strategic planning has helped in Fayette County. How might it help in your community?

Reference:

http://www.areadevelopment.com/corporate-site-selection-factors/Q4-2017/importance-of-community-strategic-planning-location-decision.shtml


Apaliyah, GodwinGodwin Tayese Apaliyah is an Extension educator in Fayette County.

Building Consumer & Producer Relations

It’s safe to say that during any conversation the notion of change will be brought up: “I remember when gas was only $1 a gallon.” “Most cars were standard transmissions, and now my car is going to drive ITSELF?” Some of us may or may not be familiar with these changes. But one change that affects us all is the change within our food. Whether you are a producer looking to stay afloat in a changing market or you are loading your cart up at the grocery store, we are ALL consumers.

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If we are all consumers, then shouldn’t keeping up with changes in consumer demand be easy for producers? I mean, they can adapt right along with the market, right? Well, that may be the case if we all thought the same way and had the same preferences. Since there are numerous preferences and several production methods, how are consumers and producers supposed to be on the same page? Relationships. In a world where we can reach thousands of people via social media in a matter of minutes, everyone should know immediately when preferences shift and be able to adjust accordingly….well, not exactly.

Today, we are great at communicating, but how well do we converse? What’s the difference? On social media we communicate by displaying information about what we want or what we do, but this can leave that information open to different interpretations and lead to misconceptions about what consumers really want and what producers are actually doing. Sometimes this leads to more debate on who is right or wrong rather than allowing producers and consumers to work together. We all can do a better job of conversing to better understand each other’s ideas and practices. With so many different needs, ideas, and preferences, it may seem impossible to get everyone on the “same-page.” This is where Extension can play a huge role, and this is why I am so passionate about my job.

Recently, our team of Extension professionals has been conducting Beef Quality Assurance Trainings (BQA). I have been conducting these trainings with Brooke Beam of Highland County, Gigi Neal of Clermont County, and David Dugan of Adams County. At these trainings we converse about what consumer changes are developing and how we can meet those needs. We speak about practices that ensure producers can consistently provide a safe and wholesome product from start to finish. We also answer several questions about what consumers are wanting and what they are concerned about. A few Extension educators can’t answer all of the questions or tie up all of the loose-ends within the industry, but we give those who attend the ability to educate others and set good examples. Over the last three trainings we have trained close to 300 individuals.

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Now that producers are being trained, how are consumers supposed to know what is going on within the industry and where their product is coming from? Just as a few educators cannot communicate with every producer, we cannot reach every consumer either. Companies such as Wendy’s and Tyson have helped serve as a voice for consumers by stating they will only accept beef from BQA certified producers. Wherever cattle are sold, producers will be able to prove they are BQA certified and follow the practices to provide a safe and high quality product. Consumers do not always get to meet the producer and discuss the product they are buying, but allowing everyone to become familiar with the guidelines of this certification will help bridge the gap between the unknown and serve as a common language for everyone. Even if several producers already implement these practices, the BQA certification can help pass on that information.

We are taking steps to build relationships in all areas of food production, not only within beef production. For example, in October the OSU Direct Food and Marketing Team along with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service will be visiting Brown County to discuss how producers can enter various markets. They will share more about what consumers are looking for and how they can build relationships in several different markets.

As I talk about training producers to understand the needs of consumers, it is important too for us all to remember what I mentioned earlier. There are numerous preferences, and none is more right or wrong than another. There is no universal way to meet each other’s needs. This can only be understood through conversation. A group of Brown County families are making this happen after they formed the Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative. This group provides locally grown beef to several grocers in Brown County as well as direct to consumer. The cooperative members stay in contact with the consumers and raise their product based on the demands of the surrounding communities.

As I get to work with the various producers and consumers, I notice there is not a refusal to work together but a stockpile of questions and misconceptions. There will always be a few bad eggs in almost any situation, but the good will always outweigh the bad. You hear plenty about the bad and the division between one another, but even more are working together to build relationships. Just as the changes I referenced earlier didn’t happen over night, we cannot expect this change to be any different. The importance to discuss our needs is not to prove a point or win an argument, but to create a better situation for those we care about. It doesn’t matter if you are caring for the family you have around the table or the animal you tend to everyday. We are all consumers and we all care for one another.


James MorrisJames Morris is a County Extension Educator, Brown County.