By Korinne Caniglia
OSU Extension, Medina County
Medina County families grow a little richer each day.
The Ohio State University Extension teaches life skills that builds stronger families and communities with economic benefits in the millions.
The Ohio State Universityâ€™s Presi-dent Gordon Gee agreed Extensionâ€™s results are priceless during a recent stop in Medina. His tour fulfilled a pledge to reconnect with people and see the university at work in half of the stateâ€™s counties each year.
â€œOne of the centers of the university is Extension,â€ Gee told a small group of Extension staff, committee members and local officials. â€œIn every county, the university is represented through Extension and its programs.
â€œMedina County is as much of Ohio State University as Columbus. We appreciate the support, the enthusiasm of alumni and the faculty who serve the needs and wants.â€
Extension programs reflect different needs critical to communities. It delivers cutting-edge research and unbiased information from the university on topics, from growing gardens to raising teens, to improve lives, businesses and communities.
A 16-member advisory board, made up of three-year term leaders who represent businesses, government and non-profit agencies, also keep Extension educators tuned in to changing demands.
The educators and support staff, which include 15 full and part-time employees, focus on these areas: 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, community development, and family and consumer sciences.
The 4-H youth development program promotes hands-on learning and life skills for 1,400 youths in 60 clubs. Its 4-H members, ages 5 to 18, expand their abilities and interests through leadership, community service, social events and project work. Agriculture and natural resources provide information on plant, disease and insect identification, pesticide training, crop and livestock production, as well as pond, forest and wildlife management.
Community development helps people achieve individual and community goals on local issues, such as zoning, and create future visions. Family and consumer sciences focuses on strengthening families by emphasizing healthy relationships, people, finances and homes.
â€œThe goal is to create a better Medina County, improving the quality of life,â€ said David Civittolo, the county Extension director. â€œWe want to offer people programs they wouldnâ€™t normally get and be the place they come to for answers.â€
New knowledge and skills can pay off, too, saving some families $25 to $25,000.
For instance, a Brunswick homeowner planned to save $25 a month on grocery bills this summer after learning how to prepare and plant a successful vegetable garden.
A single mom reduced her debt load by $4,600 and created a monthly budget to save 10 percent of her income after joining a money management program. A Medina resident also predicted a $20,000 savings after gaining the tools for proper landscape design, from soil testing to plant selection.
A sample of last yearâ€™s numbers also speak for themselves:
o The Fall Foliage Tour attracted 7,000 people to take a behind-the-scenes look at agriculture, which generates more than $45.5 million in total cash income.
o Six hundred 4-H volunteers and sponsors donated $40,000 and 100,000 hours, valued at $1.7 million, to develop each young personâ€™s abilities and leadership.
o The communication lines stayed open after 139 inmates serving up to six months in jail attended multiple parenting classes. Inmates involved with their families have a lower rate of returning to prison, potentially saving more than $2.7 million.
o Forty-nine people received 96 hours of pesticide training, with an estimated value of $60,000, on protecting the environment and growing crops with higher yields.
Gee cited Extension as the top example of partnership and cooperation. It receives money for programs from national, state and local resources. Gee said the university also will study more ways to become involved in future partnerships as well as explore options for expanding distance learning.
â€œExtension is the essence of cooperation,â€ Gee said. â€œIn turn, itâ€™s money well invested.â€
For more information, call the county Extension office at 330-725-4911; or 330-225-7100 or 330-336-6657, ext. 9237 or visit medina.osu.edu.