You Want What/When?!

time managementOh no, there’s that email again reminding me that my blog is due! When will I find the time to write about what I do? Yes, I hear all of the many organized people out there thinking, “Here is a great candidate for Time Management training.” Been there-done that and actually did pick up some good pointers to help keep the many demands of life activities well organized. A few of these timely time saving tips follow:

Prioritize:  Each Friday afternoon, I review my workload (or at least the items I remembered to write down) and prioritize for the upcoming week. Then along comes Monday, and by noon that workload list has been completely disrupted by other more pressing emergencies. When trying to define activities as “important and urgent” as Stephen Covey recommends in his book First Things First, I find everything screams they are both urgent and important.

Assign a time for email: This is a great tip except for extremely optimistic people like me who believe we are just an email away from the one that will eliminate a task from our workload. What if I failed to open an email as soon as I got it and it was one of my colleagues asking if they could have the opportunity to write this week’s blog for me?!

Delegate: I’m a pro at this technique. The only problem is that the only person to delegate work to is myself. Let’s face it, delegating to someone who admittedly does not manage time efficiently is an inefficient strategy.

Multitasking doesn’t work: Certainly this must be a myth! If I do more than one thing at once, doesn’t that mean I’ll get more done? Susan Weinschenk, PhD, in an article in Psychology Today entitled “The True Cost Of Multi-Tasking,” reported that you can lose up to 40% productivity by multitasking. She advised that instead of multitasking, we are really task switching. Well, that explains why I never seem to make progress on my to-do list, and why it seems my mind is a constant stream of tumultuous thoughts.

Time flies when you are having fun:  Even though this may not be an actual time management skill, it helps keep in perspective your accomplishments versus your ability to manage both the internal and external daily chaos. Time spent pursuing a goal keeps us motivated and our minds occupied creating the sensation that time is passing quickly.

The time was allotted and the blog completed in a lighthearted manner. When you read it, I hope you enjoy what I have written and smile as you relate it to your life of pressures and deadlines.  While managing one’s time is important for productivity, of equal importance is the ability to enjoy life. I am blessed to have a rewarding job that allows my work to positively impact many lives. I hope you are as fortunate.

Darlene LukshinDarlene Lukshin is a Program Specialist for OSU Extension in Washington County.

Now it’s The Road (Not) Less Traveled

Dodging potholes, bumping across a road that is as grooved as a washboard, and watching the cloud of dust in your rear view mirror is the road traveled by many rural Ohio residents. Fast forward 5 days to that same road as a solid, smooth chip and seal surface. Beware of the caution signs on this thoroughfare to success, as there are months of preparation before the actual surfacing project. Hop in and ride with me as we journey through this process.

One of the main reasons road surfaces become so challenging to drive is not the surface itself, but the lack of a solid base beneath the surface. We stop to find our county engineer and township trustees converging to develop a plan. A road rehabilitation method known as full depth reclamation offers an option to improve road conditions. To be successful, this process requires significant funding to complete. With three townships and the county working cooperatively, an application is submitted to the Ohio Public Works Commission for grant and loan assistance.

Road surface prep

Full-depth reclamation – pulverizing the road base.

Chip and seal

Chip and seal surface application

Using this funding source and local matching funds the project begins with preparations that include ditching and installation of new, and replacement of damaged, culverts. This is done because proper drainage is essential to road maintenance. While this work could be completed by local road crews, the full-depth reclamation work requires a contractor who specializes in the process. First, test holes are made to determine the type of soil under the road. This informs the correct cement-to-road material ratio. A road reclaim machine pulverizes the road base and some sub-base and combines them. The road is then graded back to normal terrain. More soil tests are done and a dry cement is then distributed over and incorporated into the pulverized material including a water additive. The stabilized material is compacted with rollers providing a solid base. After all of these steps are complete, then the asphalt and limestone aggregate chip and seal surface is applied.

Providing a road map for this road improvement project was Ohio State University Extension, Washington County Community Development. Extension engaged the community via coordination of meetings, assisting with application paperwork, and supporting township officials with critically important project information. Projects of all types can experience unexpected bumps and curves. Remember to contact your local Extension office to help you travel your road to success!

Darlene LukshinDarlene Lukshin is a Community Development program specialist in Washington County.

Rollin’ on the River

Dr. Michael Drake

Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. Photo credit: Kevin Fitzsimons.

A crisp, sunny, blue-sky morning greeted Ohio State President Michael V. Drake, along with Dr. Cathann Kress, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, other OSU staff, students, and guests as they visited southeast Ohio’s Washington County. The group boarded the Valley Gem Sternwheeler, built and operated by a local family to journey the Muskingum River. The fog had lifted to reveal the calm and gently flowing river banked on each side by lush green vegetation. Just over the top of the riverbank, homes could be seen in the City of Marietta. Perhaps with the rhythmic splash of the paddle of the sternwheeler, these passengers could imagine years long ago and the early pioneers who would establish Marietta and Washington County.

The Treaty of Paris greatly opened expansion of territories west of the Appalachian Mountains.  In need of revenue and in payment to Revolutionary War veterans, the lands in the Northwest Territory were established with the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Rufus Putnam, who was appointed Chief of Engineers by General George Washington, along with Manasseh Cutler and two other Continental Army officers, formed the Ohio Company of Associates and bought over 1,000,000 acres of land in the Northwest Territory. In 1788, with Putnam as their leader, 48 Revolutionary War veterans settled at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, founding Marietta as the first organized settlement in the Northwest Territory. In accordance with the terms of the Northwest Ordinance, the settlers began the establishment based on legal basis land ownership, organized government, natural rights and prohibition of slavery. Later, Marietta and surrounding communities would become key locations in the Underground Railroad.

The Northwest Ordinance held language that carried forward the concept of land grants to support education. Arthur St. Clair (first governor of the Northwest Territory) originally chartered the American Western University to be the public university in the settlement (between Chillicothe and Marietta); however, the university never opened under that name. The next charter two years later established the first university in the territory: Ohio University. Rufus Putnam served as a trustee of the university for twenty years. Mr. Putnam also originated Muskingum Academy in 1797, a predecessor to Marietta College.

Just as the Northwest Ordinance presented opportunities for expansion, The Ohio State University offers opportunities for expansion of knowledge, careers, and development of social and economic initiatives. Visiting various areas of our great state gives our students, faculty, and staff a broader understanding of the impacts made by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Valley Gem Sternwheeler

Valley Gem Sternwheeler. Photo Credit: Kevin Fitzsimons.

Marietta and Washington County, Ohio invite you to visit. Plan a ride on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler and enjoy the many historical sites and scenic beauty of the area. The Columbus Dispatch’s recent article “Marietta preserves its past as Ohio’s oldest city,” describes many visitor attractions. For more visitor information visit:

Darlene Lukshin is an OSU Extension Program Specialist (Washington County & Buckeye Hills EERA).

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).

Grand Parenting and Grant Writing

Grand-parenting 2016-08-25As a relatively new grandmother, I have learned that transitioning into the grandparent stage of life is truly rewarding and fascinating. Viewing the world with the sponge-like mind of a child reminds us of the simplicity of life.

I was reminded of this during a recent trip to the toy store with my 2 ½ year old granddaughter. It was quite the adventure as we browsed all of the aisles examining the many products designed to encourage the buy activity. She picked up and inspected a multitude of items for brand awareness, interaction, durability and general interest. Once examined, the toys were returned back to their rightful display place. That is, until that special toy appeared! With eyes sparkling with anticipation and the toy clutched tightly in her hands I heard her exclaim, “Grammy, I need this.” At this point a conversation ensued in which we discussed the toy’s suitability for her age, price, and her commitment to playing with and caring for her toy of choice. It dawned on me then that these same principles apply to collaborating with others in grant writing. Like the conversation with my granddaughter, I’ve shared similar considerations with many of the Extension colleagues and clientele with whom I’ve worked. For example:

1)  You get nothing if you ask for nothing.

You cannot fear rejection. The grant-writing experience is beneficial even if your particular request is not funded. Generally, your success rate will increase with each submission. And, be sure your request matches the mission of the funding source. After more shopping experiences, my granddaughter should begin to learn what I might likely purchase for her and what I will not.

2)  Is it a want or a need?

Before moving forward with your proposal, be sure that you can cite evidence that clearly shows the project will solve a pressing problem and will be good for the community. Use statistics when possible to describe the impact.

3)  How will you use this?

Your goals should describe the focus of the project and how the project addresses the need. What are the primary anticipated impacts of this project? The goals may be broad as long as you can identify measurable outcomes. Objectives need to be SMART-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

4)  What is the real cost?

Develop a detailed budget that will illustrate the project cost in total. Recognize funding collaborators, detail costs, outline a timeframe, and demonstrate the ability to sustain once the project is completed. Funders (like grandparents) want to make investments that are sensible. For grandparents and funders, ‘feel-good’ investments can be a recipe for disaster.

5)  Other key considerations when engaging in grant writing include building relationships with funding sources and being sure to follow grant application guidelines.

Remember these grant writing basics and enjoy the accomplishment of this “grand” option to impact your financial opportunities. Not sure where to start? Ohio State University Extension has resources and talent available to assist in writing a successful grant application.

It’s such a grand thing to be a mother of a mother — that’s why the world calls her grandmother.
~Author Unknown

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

Creating Healthy Communities

What can communities do to encourage their residents to increase physical activity and the consumption of healthy food choices? One approach is to model Washington County’s involvement in the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program. The CHC program focuses on preventing and reducing chronic disease and as it reaches into our communities, it creates multiple benefits.

CHC Basketball Court 2016-03-17According to the Center for Disease Control, Ohio’s leading cause of death is heart disease. The American Heart Association tells us that “brisk walking may increase life expectancy in some people and that walking improves your heart health.” To encourage walking and increased physical activity, the CHC program partnered with township trustees at Belpre Township Recreation Park and Arboretum, in western Washington County. The facility has a walking path that contains both level areas and some slightly elevated sections to challenge both walkers and runners. Meeting at the park to walk together generates social interaction and exposure to the outdoors, both of which have been shown to have a positive effect on mental and physical health. By Creating a Heart healthy Collaborative, the program provided a resealed surface for the nearly half-mile walking path. In addition to resealing and restriping of the basketball court, new backboards were installed. Benches were added to the walking path for rest spots to enjoy the serenity of the 25 acres of land included in the park, which boasts all sorts of native trees and a nature trail.

CHC Cottage 2016-03-17A park on the eastern side of Washington County relied on the program in hopes of Creating Happy Children through the purchase of a slide and a mushroom cottage playhouse. The playground was severely lacking in equipment after it was determined that its existing equipment would not meet insurance standards. Located in the main village park and across the street from the elementary school, the park sees much activity. According to the Surgeon General’s testimony in “The Obesity Crisis in America,” many children carry excess body weight. He has also encouraged children to be physically active at least 60 minutes per day. This playground equipment will encourage playing outdoors allowing children to burn more calories, improve cognitive development, and stimulate their senses.

Another contributor to good health is nutritious eating habits.  Funding through the CHC program provided for the expansion of a community garden. This program Created Healthy food Choices via production of fresh vegetables for the community, providing residents healthy food items. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a heathy choice that can help control weight, combat diabetes, and improve overall well-being.

Extension Community Development in Washington County engages in co-discovery and learning; and in this case, a key partner was the Washington County Health Department. In collaboration we were able to identify the needs and engage communities in efforts that aligned with the mission of the Creating Healthy Communities program.

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

Innovation preserves our stream banks

A lazy summer day sees fishermen with their poles and catch sitting on the banks of the gently flowing Muskingum River enjoying the sounds of water rushing over Devol’s Dam near Marietta, Ohio. Just a few hundred yards upstream, township trustees oversee a project to reduce stream bank erosion to maintain this tranquil setting. This stabilization is imperative to saving not just the stream bank, but also the road that is access to homes along this portion of the Muskingum River.

As flood waters have eroded the riverbank and caused road slippage, multiple efforts and many thousands of dollars have been focused on retaining the stream bank, only to see continued decline. With financial support through a Partners in Watershed Management grant with Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the township is working with Uretek USA on an underground polymer injection technology. By infiltrating and compacting unstable soil and voids, this technology creates soil stabilization.

Photo: Uretek USA

Photo: Uretek USA

The project began with Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP) testing to measure soil solidity and identify volatile zones. Testing was completed to a depth that indicated solid rock. Injection holes were then drilled to various depths in patterned grids. Overall length of the three injection regions ranged from 50 to 100 linear feet. Utilizing the URETEK Deep Injection Process, a total of 11,175 lbs. of environmentally safe and water resistant expansive polymer were injected down into the soils through small ¾” diameter tubes, drilled and inserted from the pavement surface.

This new-to-Ohio riparian barrier process is designed to be economically and environmentally beneficial. The work was completed in four days with only one lane closed during the day and all lanes open during the night. Without this repair, the adjoining road would be abandoned and homes in the area would dramatically lose value. Families might even be forced to relocate.

Continued erosion affects water quality by introducing pollutants and sediments into streams. It reduces the ability to grow trees in the area that shade and cool waters helping prevent algae growth. And it disrupts the habitat of many species of plants and animals.

By engaging multiple entities, this project is an example of how Ohio State University Extension works to create opportunities through collaboration. These collaborations empower communities to solve problems that impact the lives of their residents.

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

CD coordinates Emergency Preparedness Initiative

Duck Creek 2015-04-09


It is late June, 1998. Warm moist air has collided with cool air to develop a frontal boundary creating thunderstorms covering much of Southeast Ohio. The frontal boundary system stalls and its resulting storms produce a foot or more of rain over four days that floods the banks of Duck Creek,  a 30-mile long tributary that flows through Noble and Washington Counties. Families are forced to wait on rooftops for rescue by helicopter, waters reach the tops of utility poles, and nearly all the homes in one small town are destroyed. All told, this localized flooding caused five deaths and an estimated $20 million in property damage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a result of this devastation, local officials, agencies and residents began an initiative to establish a flood warning system for Duck Creek. After several years of research and evaluation, a system consisting of various stream and rain gauges, computer monitoring equipment, transmitters and associated enclosures was designed. In 2012, installation was complete and the system became operational. This system provides real-time data for the National Weather Service and can be accessed via USGS website. This information aids emergency management personnel in making emergency preparedness decisions. The $376,000 project is expected to produce a benefit in avoided property damage of $131,260 annually over 50 years; a total impact of over $6.5 million.

Ohio State University Extension coordinated this collaborative project that included U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Geological Survey, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, state and county Emergency Management Agencies, and Noble and Washington Counties. This decade-long project illustrates the role Extension can plays in strengthening communities and the environment.

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

Extension seeks grant funding to improve community services and infrastructure

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

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

Little Muskingum VFD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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