Recognizing Extension professionals for impact

extension-annual-conference-2016Investing for Impact – the theme of this year’s OSU Extension Annual Conference – describes our work each and every day. Such investment was realized on December 6th and 7th as dozens of Extension professionals were recognized for their accomplishments at the Ohio Union on the Columbus campus of OSU.

OSUE CD educatorsThe continued excellence of OSU Extension professionals was formally acknowledged by JCEP/ESP awards for scholarships, team teaching and creative works; ESP chapter and regional awards; CES and national association awards; and awards for service. Our very own Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Award was bestowed upon Eric Romich.

Click here to read more about all of the CD professionals who were formally recognized for their valuable work in 2016 as well as the 2016 Excellence in Community Development awardee. Kudos to all of these individuals who worked in collaboration with others and invested every available resource to make significant impact for the communities we serve.

To learn more about the high impact efforts that are bringing people and ideas together throughout Ohio, click here.

Feed People, Not Landfills


How can we improve the environment, save money, and more effectively address food insecurity issues? One approach within the larger sustainability movement involves looking more closely at the issue of food waste.

According to the U.S. EPA, in 2014 more than 38 million tons of food waste was generated, with only 5.1% being diverted from landfills and incinerators through composting efforts. The EPA estimates more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our waste streams, accounting for 21.6% of our discarded solid waste.

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), an international environmental advocacy group, “Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States.” When we consider the large amount of natural resources used for food production it is troubling that 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. The uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for a large portion of U.S. methane emissions, posing negative effects on the environment. However, food waste is not only an environmental concern, but also a social and economic issue.

food-waste-2016-12-15The economic effects of food waste are just as startling. Americans throw away the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year. In addition to food waste occurring at the consumer level, 10% of the total food supply at the retail level enters the solid waste stream. The USDA estimates that supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables alone, in addition to the baked goods, meat, seafood, and ready-made foods that go unsold. These items can easily be recovered from the waste stream by donating them to local food banks and food pantries, and retailers can receive tax benefits for doing so.

Aside from economic and environmental benefits of reducing food waste, recovering or diverting edible food from the waste stream could help to address the larger social issue of food insecurity in the U.S. In 2015, 12.7% of U.S. households (15.8 million households) were food insecure (USDA ERS), and 6.6% of households in Ohio were found to have “very low food security,” defined by the USDA as households in which “normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.” Reducing food losses by just 15% recovers enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year, which could have a profound impact when we consider that one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food.

To learn more about food waste and food recovery systems contact Amanda Osborne (, County Extension Educator, Cuyahoga County & Western Reserve EERA.

The power of a single snowflake

We journeyed north to Alaska for our family vacation this year. And as odd as it might sound, while in that remote, spectacular, unspoiled wilderness, I couldn’t help but think about the concept of community.

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Credit: Becky Nesbitt

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Credit: Becky Nesbitt

I see myself as a lifelong student, so when I’m interested in something, I want to learn more about it. As we were traveling past the ice fields and across the Aleutian and Alaska mountain ranges, I was reading about the early explorers who made their way into that part of the world. John Muir, a 19th Century author and naturalist, was one of the first non-native souls who trekked into that frozen, unforgiving place.

As Muir hiked over and around the tallest, snow-capped peaks in North America and gazed into the turquoise blue depths of massive glaciers, he marveled at the powerful forces of nature. And in those moments, when the only sounds ringing in his ears may have been humpback whales breaking the surface of the water or the wind whistling through the Western hemlocks, I think he was thinking about community too.

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Credit: Becky Nesbitt

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Credit: Becky Nesbitt

While canoeing near glaciers in what is now Glacier Bay National Park, Muir wrote that he began to think about how those massive bodies of ice were formed from delicate snowflakes. He observed that a single snowflake, on its own, is fragile and powerless; but many snowflakes, gathered together, over time, formed a glacier. And those slow-moving rivers of ice carved mountains, created deep valleys, and gave birth to breathtaking fjords and great fresh water lakes.

As I was reading about his adventures, I thought about how a person, alone in that unfriendly wilderness, was a bit like a snowflake. Individually, of course, a person can have much more impact than one snowflake, but when one person becomes two or three or more, a “community” is born. Helen Keller remarked, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” People seem to be at their best when they work together, gathering around a shared goal or living peacefully in a common area. When we live and work together, we must face our similarities and our differences; we must harness our strengths – allowing each person to contribute an individual effort to a combined outcome. Just like those snowflakes within a glacier, each of us can be one part of collective force that might one-day move mountains.

To learn more about OSU Extension’s educational programs focused on community development, visit

Becky Nesbitt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Educator in Community Development with OSU Extension.

Using technology to expand our reach

There are only so many hours in a day and yet our work never seems to end. How can we better extend our reach and increase awareness of Extension?

For almost three years we have been using technology to enhance our efforts to inform and interact with the publics we serve. We drive web travelers to this very blog using popular social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Together, these tools and the blog link users to our other web-based content that includes podcasts, videos, and a variety of downloadable materials.

In days past, we assembled a quarterly newsletter that required formatting, copying, and then hard copy distribution. With the advent of email, that approach gave way to an electronic PDF version that could be sent to an email list. The web enabled us to post the PDF but who would actually go there to read it?


Today, we are reaching literally thousands of people, many of whom are connecting with us for the very first time. Not only are they able to acquire the specific content that is of interest to them, we are also now able to interact in ways we could not ever before.

The entire staff plays a creative role which has built a real sense of teamwork. And knowing we are extending our reach and increasing awareness of Extension has been very motivating as well!

To learn more about our approach, please feel free to contact me or any of the CD team members.

To see how it could work for you, take the opportunity to investigate some of the recent posts, categories or tags that interest you on the left side of your screen. Notice how you can share the content you like with others, interact with the author and others who have an interest in the topic, and find additional information linked to the post. Enjoy!!

Greg Davis is the Assistant Director for OSU Extension, Community Development.