OSU Extension in Putnam County
For those who are not familiar with OSU Extension in Putnam County and our efforts within the community, I thought I would take this opportunity to cover who we are and what we do. The Cooperative Extension Service formed in 1914 when the Smith-Lever Act formalized the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) partnership with land grant colleges in each state. At that time, nearly half the population lived in rural areas, and 30% were involved in farming. The Cooperative Extension Service in Ohio needed to bring the resources, tools, and knowledge generated at The Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Station in Wooster to where it was needed most – to residents located in all 88 counties.
Much has changed over the last 100 years for both agriculture and extension. Today, only 20% of our population lives in rural areas with 2% of the population involved in agriculture. The amount of money from each food dollar spent in the US that goes back to the farmer has also decreased from 31 cents in 1980 to 16 cents in 2015. Yet, the importance of the extension service in the daily lives of Putnam County residents is as apparent today as it was 100 years ago. Today, OSU Extension’s program areas in Putnam County include 4-H, SNAP-ED, and agriculture and natural resources (ANR). Here is a brief overview of each:
4-H is an educational, youth development program offered to individuals age 5 to 19. It has been a significant contributing factor in the training and maturing of tens of thousands of Putnam County youth since it began in 1918. 4-H members learn valuable lessons in leadership, communication and collaboration while increasing their knowledge in math, science, technology and a variety of other topics. Today the local 4-H program has approximately 800 traditional 4-H members enrolled completing over 1300 4-H projects annually. These members make up 25 community clubs lead by 150 trained adult advisors.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) is a free nutrition education and obesity prevention program serving low-income adults and youth. SNAP-Ed, formerly known as the Family Nutrition Program, has served Putnam County since 1994 and is funded by the Food Nutrition Service branch of USDA. Classes provide hands-on activities and demonstrations to show how newly learned skills can be used in daily living. SNAP-ED classes are also offered in the school setting where children are given information and skills to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Putnam County has the highest percentage of land of all 88 Ohio counties devoted to farmland and cropland: 98 and 93%, respectively. We are first in the sale of wheat, 5th for soybeans and hogs, 11th for corn and 35th for cattle. Our county also has the highest number of Century Farms, with 101 farms owned by the same family for more than 100 years!
Due to this strong agricultural base, the ANR program in Putnam County strives to help farmers and producers identify and implement sustainable farming and business practices so that they will continue to be productive and profitable. We often collaborate with other groups and organizations to provide programs for ag producers including pesticide applicator training and recertification, nutrient management, agronomy seminars and workshops, field days and farm tours, site visits and consultations, Women in Agriculture workshops, and many more. All producers are invited to contact me with questions, concerns or to schedule a site visit.
As the ANR educator, I also answer questions and concerns about horticultural problems found on the farm or in the home, garden, and landscape – from how to control grubs and moles in the lawn to identifying insects found in the home. Residents can contact the office with their questions, bring insect or plant samples into our office for accurate identification, or even send images by email.
OSU Extension also has an active group of Master Gardeners who volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities across the county. Our Master Gardeners have a passion for learning about gardening and sharing this knowledge with others. Current projects include developing a learning native plant garden at the Quarry Farm, a garden tour, and others. Please contact the office if interested in becoming a Master Gardener as we will be scheduling a training event for later this year.
The Extension office in Putnam County provides information and resources that are backed by scientific research to residents and producers across the county. Some of the services and resources we provide include:
- Ohio Pesticide and Fertilizer applicator training and recertification classes
- Master Gardener training and project development
- Insect, plant, and disease identification for home and garden and agriculture
- Farm management resources and programs
- Many more
All residents are encouraged to contact our office for information regarding any of these programs. Those interested or involved in agriculture can leave their mailing and email addresses to be notified of news, programs and other information as it becomes available. Please visit our website at http://putnam.osu.edu for additional information. You can also learn more about all OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources programs at http://agnr.osu.edu.