LOOK! Emerging Youth Leadership in Clermont County

Building youth leadership in Clermont County starts with the LOOK to Clermont program facilitated by the community partnership with the University of Cincinnati – Clermont College and Ohio State University Extension – Clermont County through collaboration within all four Extension program areas. This tight-knit partnership came to evolve from a nearly twenty-year-old program that was formerly operated by Clermont 20/20 in partnership with the Clermont Chamber of Commerce. Also, featuring an adult program called LEAD Clermont, these adult LEADers aide in the learning experience for the Clermont County youth of the program.

LOOK! Clermont County 2015-10-15 Blog #1 The LOOK to Clermont program is a series of classroom and practical learning experiences. Here high school students from throughout the county meet monthly to develop and enhance leadership skills while increasing awareness of critical issues within Clermont County. Embedded in this program is a course where students receive college credit through the College Credit Plus program. Juniors receive credit from the University of Cincinnati – Clermont College, while seniors receive credit from The Ohio State University for the COMLDR 3530: Foundations of Personal and Professional Leadership course in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

In addition to individual assignments and class time experience, the students participate in community projects where they are able to add value and positively impact Clermont County first hand. Students practice speaking by sharing information gleaned from local research and exposure to local leaders in action. The ultimate goal of the program is that through strong community partnerships Clermont County high school students are prepared to be tomorrow’s community leaders.

LOOK! Clermont County #2 - 2015-10-15Not only does the LOOK to Clermont program facilitate community development through partnerships with other organizations and local citizens, it unites the Extension program areas in collaboration. Each monthly class has a theme, such as teambuilding, history and agriculture, civic engagement, education, personal finance, safety and justice, community development, or envisioning the future. Depending on the theme for the particular day, the county educators work closely to utilize their personal networks to engage the students in a learning experience that will best benefit them while giving exposure to the individual or group within the county that may be hosting or presenting the class. This allows a Community Development rooted program to nurture the countywide network through Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H Youth Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Further, the students gain knowledge in a wide array of topics relevant to Clermont County in a short period of time.

LOOK! Clermont County #3 - 2015-10-15Earlier this month the LOOK to Clermont program held the history and agriculture day. The students met at the Extension office where they discussed the rich history of agriculture in Clermont County with the Agriculture and Natural Resources educator, Gigi Neal. Next, the group toured the county with stops including: Carney’s Feed Mill, Grant’s Farm and Greenhouse, Cornwell Farms, and Shaw Farms. Along the way the students were able to learn about a historic family-based feed milling business, a grain farm and greenhouse in full production, water quality and its importance through a Conservation Innovation Grant Basin and reduction in nutrient run-off.

For lunch the Family and Consumer Sciences educator, Margaret Jenkins, arranged a nutritious picnic-style meal. The day ended with a stop at an agritourism farm where the students were able to use their leadership skills to navigate a corn maze. The corn maze activity was aided by the Real Colors® program previously facilitated in part by the 4-H Youth Development educator, Kelly Royalty, where students were mixed with different colors to see how different personalities work together. This class day is just one example of how the LOOK to Clermont program works to nurture the many networking opportunities given on a daily basis to positively impact Clermont County residents.

Currently, the LOOK to Clermont partners are working to measure the true reach of the program on Clermont County individuals and families. Positive impacts can be extensively seen through the success of previous program graduates. For more information on LOOK to Clermont, visit the Clermont County Extension page.

(Submitted by Trevor Corboy, Student Assistant, Community Development State Office & Clermont County; Margaret Jenkins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Clermont County; Gigi Neal, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Clermont County; and Kelly Royalty, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Clermont County)


Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship: Helping high school seniors consider a future in small business

With only a few weeks of school to go before graduation, Van Wert City School seniors were offered yet another option to consider for their future:  becoming an entrepreneur and owning their own business.

Members of the Van Wert City Schools senior class are required to take Senior Government which includes a segment focused on Financial Literacy within the overall curriculum. The Financial Literacy portion of the class offers several aspects of personal finance, from car loans to credit cards. Missing in the program was an opportunity that involved owning your own business. Last year, Ohio State University Extension and the Wright State Lake Campus Business Enterprise collaborated with school administrators to teach students about starting their own business.

Van Wert HS EntrepreneurshipWith the program finishing its second year, Senior Government teacher, Bob Priest, was again impressed with the students’ interest and excitement about owning their own business. “Van Wert High School government students had the good fortune of participating with two universities at the local level for a three-day introduction to entrepreneurship, business planning and financing,” stated Priest. “I was impressed with the ideas the students created for the betterment of Van Wert, and then they had to put the numbers to their business plan. That was the difficult part. I think students now have a better understanding of how expensive and time consuming it can be to own a business.”

The program involved personal entrepreneurship assessments, identifying local market opportunities, and creating a business plan. In addition to a visit from local entrepreneur and business owner of Firehouse Pizza in Middle Point, the students learned about start-up expenses, on-going operating costs, pricing and break-even analysis.

Post-program evaluation results indicated that 98% of the students felt the program was suitable for graduating seniors and 95% recommended Van Wert High School continue to offer the program. Surprisingly, 48% of the students responded they would be interested in owning their own business in the future. “Because of this, I may now think about starting my own business while I may not have wanted to before,” remarked one of the participating students.

(Submitted by Cindy Leis, County Extension Educator, Van Wert County & Maumee Valley EERA and Van Wert City Economic Development Director)

High School Seniors explore another Path to their Futures

Van Wert HS Starting Right for the Student Workshop 2014 - #2Where have nearly two of every three new jobs come from since 1995? That would be small businesses, according to the SBA and U.S. Census. How can we stimulate entrepreneurial interest? How about a special workshop for getting high school seniors interested in and thinking about their futures as entrepreneurs and business owners? Such an effort was recently conducted with Van Wert High School seniors, 53 percent of which indicated, at the program’s conclusion, an interest in owning their own business sometime in the future.

For more information about the program and to read about the pilot project at Van Wert City Schools, click here.

(Submitted by Cindy Leis, County Extension Educator and Van Wert Economic Development Director)