Conveying a Tradition of Philanthropy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sector groups in discussion

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

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

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

Fayette County Leaders and OSU Students

Fayette County local leaders and OSU grad students

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

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

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

Working Together to Strengthen Ohio’s Economy

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

BR&E Training

David Civittolo explaining BR&E Program assumptions.

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

Nancy Bowen

Nancy Bowen discussing various outcomes of BR&E.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

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

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

Restoring a Burning River – 50 years later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short, lots of people are working to clean the river up and delist the BUIs. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is collaborating with the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee to lead restoration actions. The Advisory Committee is facilitated by the nonprofit Cuyahoga River Restoration, and is made up of representatives from Ohio Sea Grant and other organizations including nonprofit community groups, businesses, government agencies, and local residents concerned with the health of the watershed.

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

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

See you on the river!

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

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

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

Still not sure?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lion or Lamb, it’s Time for Extension!

Whether lore or a proverb, with the onset of March, we have long heard “In With a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.” March brings the beginning of spring and a mixture of lion and lamb days here in southeastern Ohio. Regardless of the weather, March means more hours of daylight and warming soils that inspire outdoor activities.

After those cold wintry days indoors, a sunny spring day at the playground fills children with laughter and giggles. Playground activities like swinging, climbing, and that thrill of gliding down the slide with others promote healthy social, physical and mental development. Through grant writing assistance, OSU Extension Community Development has helped Washington County communities acquire equipment to enhance the quality of life for residents.

Perhaps when we think of lamb-like days on the farm, it’s of glimpses of these woolly creatures as they venture into the fields for their first gambol in the outdoors. For farmers, these days of anticipating spring are spent preparing for planting crops to feed America and the world. Some of those crops may create a need for certification in fertilization or pesticide licensing. Our Agricultural and Natural Resource Programs provide webinars, workshops and other resources to increase yields while preserving our environment.

As we watch crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils peek through the ground only to be covered again by snow, our thoughts are filled with flowers that will color and brighten our entire summer. Maybe the arrival of those inspiring seed catalogs entice you to create your own garden plot with all those scrumptious fresh veggies. If you need to know how to grow plants in raised beds or whether to choose perennial or annual flowers for your gardens and hanging baskets, we can help. Our Master Gardener Volunteer Program offers assistance in planning and planting by providing horticulture education.

With the gray days of winter rapidly disappearing, our taste buds look forward to that delicious syrup produced by our various maple trees. Enjoying this sugary tree can be a challenge for a person with diabetes. Through our Family and Consumer Sciences efforts and the Dining with Diabetes program, for example, we help others understand how to make healthy life choices.

Roaring like a lion, March winds can carry a kite into the sky, whipping its tail like a dog’s tail whips with enthusiasm at the return of its favorite human. If your child has a dog or other animal, an eye for photography, a talent for sewing, or an appeal for fishing, there’s an OSU Extension 4-H project just waiting for them. Our projects provide hands-on activities to educate in a variety of areas. Join 4-H this spring (NOTE: Washington County’s enrollment deadline is April 14!) and enjoy camps, fairs, and club activities all through the year.

No matter the weather, lion-like or lamb, take time to check out the many opportunities available through Ohio State University Extension. And click here to learn more about our efforts in Washington County!

Darlene Lukshin is a Community Development Program Specialist in Washington County (Buckeye Hills EERA).

Tread Thoughtfully; Reducing your Carbon Footprint

Every day we make choices – what we eat, where we go, what we purchase. Have you considered the energy and resources used in your everyday life? Or how our choices further impact climate change?

Carbon Footprint defined by the EPA is “the total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year by a person, family, building, organization, or company. A person’s carbon footprint includes greenhouse gas emissions from fuel that an individual burns directly, such as by heating a home or riding in a car. It also includes greenhouse gases that come from producing the goods or services that the individual uses, including emissions from power plants that make electricity, factories that make products, and landfills where trash gets sent.”

So what are some easy steps you can take to reducing your carbon footprint?

  • Drive less – walk, ride your bike, take public transportation, and plan out your trips so you can combine errands into fewer trips. Make air travel less frequent, shorter, and fly economy class (more people per plane/mile can reduce the impact of each individual).
  • Buy your food local! On average, produce travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.
  • Lower your water usage, so less water is sent to Water Treatment Facilities, and purchase water efficient appliances (shower heads, faucets, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines). Helpful hint: turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth!
  • For waste, remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle – and in that order.
  • Lastly, purchase energy efficient appliances, light bulbs (LED), consider renewable energy options for your home or office, properly insulate your home so it can better regulate temperature, and avoid having the heat or air conditioning running while you are not home.

As an individual, you can offset your carbon footprint by positively impacting your community through the following ways: volunteering, helping with projects that will increase green space, planting trees, or reducing waste, and increasing public knowledge of carbon emissions & energy consumption. Take a step in the right direction to understanding and reducing your carbon footprint today: earthday.org/take-action/footprint-calculator.

Clean Energy Investments; what will this look like for Ohio’s economy and sustainability in the future? The video link below gives a glimpse into the past, present, and future of energy in Ohio: cdnapisec.kaltura.com/index.php/extwidget/preview/partner_id/1012331/uiconf_id/24075381/entry_id/1_scmw0km4/embed/dynamic

Sources:

25+ Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: cotap.org/reduce-carbon-footprint/

Interesting article on the carbon footprint of a loaf of bread: npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/27/517531611/whats-the-environmental-footprint-of-a-loaf-of-bread-now-we-know

Lauren Vargo is a Program Coordinator for CD/ANR in Cuyahoga County (Western Reserve EERA).

Strengths: Building Blocks to Success

Why are people so good at that? Have you ever asked yourself why something seems easy or natural for others to do and yet, for you or a coworker in the next cubicle, that same task is difficult? Everyone has a combination of skills, strengths and knowledge that is unique to them and makes up their “character.” They use this combination daily to interact with coworkers and to accomplish their goals.

Employees who know their strengths and work from them tend to be among the highest engaged employees around the world. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report, only 13% of employees worldwide are truly engaged at work. In spite of this knowledge, employee engagement has not increased significantly since 2009 when Gallup began reporting engagement worldwide.

Companies that fail to engage their employees are missing out on the powerful results that can come from engagement. Gallup studies show that businesses in the top quartile are 17% more productive, experience 70% fewer safety incidents, experience 41% less absenteeism, have 10% better customer ratings and are 21% more profitable compared to companies in the bottom quartile.

Gallup has identified a straightforward way businesses can get top notch results. Simply manage their workforce by focusing on their strengths! Employees who understand their strengths and apply them in the workplace have discovered a transforming effect on their lives and work. Employees who use their strengths daily are three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life and six times more likely to be engaged in their work.

There are numerous “self-assessments” available that focus more on an individual’s personality, or behavior style or preference. Some assessments assign you a color indicative of your personality or relate you to a certain animal, like a lion or an otter, based on behavior patterns. The highly-researched Myers-Briggs Type Indicator inventories psychological types in four dimensions, including: General Attitude (Extravert or Introvert); Perception (Sensing or Intuitive); Judging (Thinking or Feeling), and; Processing of Information (Judging or Perceiving). There are 16 distinct personality types.

The way we perceive, process, and implement information is important and worthwhile information. However, at the Alber Enterprise Center, we have seen a greater return on investment when employees learn to leverage their strengths. “For too long, performance evaluations focused on fixing weaknesses vs maximizing strengths. By exploring the gaps in which you naturally think, feel, and behave, the  CliftonStrengths® can identify and build on the areas where you have infinite potential to grow and succeed,” states Gallup.

Gallup recently completed global research on companies that implemented strengths-based management practices. They discovered that 90% of the groups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges:

  • 10% to 19% increase in sales
  • 14% to 29% increase in profit
  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement
  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (in low turnover organizations)
  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (in high turnover organizations)
  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
  • 22% to 59% lower safety incidents

Even at the low end these are impressive gains. To help organizations achieve these outcomes, we encourage corporate and business leaders to consider what Gallup has discovered by studying thousands of work teams and millions of employees.

A focus on employee strengths proceeds from the simple notion that we are all better at some things than others and that we will be happier and more productive if we spend more of our time doing those things. Gallup has identified 34 work related strengths which they divided into four leadership domains:

Executing (make things happen)
Influencing (reach a broader audience)
Relationship Building (create entities greater than the sum of parts)
Strategic Thinking
(focus on what could be)

The CliftonStrengths®  assessment yields in-depth analysis of  your Top 5 strengths. These highly customized insights will help you understand how each of your Top 5 talents play out in your life on a personal level, and what makes you stand out compared to millions of people they have studied.

If you or the organizations you work with are interested in learning more about discovering strengths, the staff at Alber Enterprise Center would be delighted to have further conversations with you.

Gary Kuhn is an Organization Development Consultant with the Alber Enterprise Center located at The Ohio State University at Marion.

Considerations for Utility Scale Solar Farm Land Lease Agreements

PSEG Wyandot Solar FarmOften heard questions from Ohio farmers these days include “Who is this solar developer?” and “Is a solar land lease agreement good for my farm?”  Well, if you could lease your farmland for $1,200 per acre over 30 years, would you do it? Considering the USDA 2016 National Agricultural Statistics Survey values Ohio cash rent at $160 per acre, this may seem like a rhetorical question. And while on the surface this may seem like a perfectly logical, economic decision, it is important to carefully consider all of the impacts of converting farmland to solar energy production.

As part of an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, AEP Ohio recently committed to developing 400 megawatts of solar in Ohio. In December of 2016, AEP Ohio issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop up to 100 megawatts of solar energy. In response to the recent RFP, solar developers and representatives from land acquisition firms are contacting farmers and landowners throughout Ohio to secure long-term land lease agreements to site a large utility scale solar farm.

Solar leases are complex long-term commitments with various social, financial, and legal implications. One of the most important components of utility scale solar energy development is the contract between the landowner and the developer, providing site access to the developer. This is often referred to as the solar land lease.

Utility scale solar energy leases are long-term agreements which often range from 20 to 30 years or more. It is crucial that landowners fully understand the details of the agreements to ensure they are adequately compensated and their property rights are protected.

When considering a utility scale solar land lease agreement, do not fall victim to making a rushed decision. Many times, the initial lease is written in favor of the developer to best achieve their long-term interest, flexibility and objectives. Do your homework, conduct a detailed assessment of the developer, the overall project, and seek advice from your tax and legal professionals before signing any paperwork. While every project and lease is unique, below is a list of common issues to consider prior to signing a solar land lease agreement for your farm.

  1. How will a solar lease agreement influence my property taxes?
  2. Are there pre-existing deed restrictions on my farm?
  3. Will a solar project impact my eligibility for Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV)?
  4. How does a solar land lease impact my property rights?
  5. How will a solar project impact the surface water on my farm?
  6. How is the project decommissioned after the lease expires?
  7. Who is responsible for insurance and liability for the solar project located on my property?
  8. What are the per acre lease rates for utility scale solar projects?
  9. Who will maintain the land?
  10. Is a utility scale solar project subject to the public utility tangible personal property tax?

This blog article has introduced a few of the many of issues to consider before entering into a utility scale solar lease agreement. Landowners approached by a developer to lease their land should carefully consider the legal and tax issues associated with the agreement. Furthermore, landowners are encouraged to work with an attorney that is familiar with energy land leases agreements to negotiate terms representing the landowners long-term interest.

Additional Resources

Eric Romich is an Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Energy Development.