One of my favorite things about working for OSU Extension is seeing the breadth and depth of the work being done by my colleagues. As the community-based outreach unit of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at Ohio State, we at OSU Extension strive to empower through education and help all Ohioans build better lives, better businesses and better communities. OSU Extension has efforts ongoing in all 88 counties across the state of Ohio. While the primary objective of our work as educators remains the same, the needs we address are community driven. Therefore, program and resource offerings within each county are vastly different.
I often say that we are far from cookie cutter for this very reason. What works in once county is not necessarily what is best in another. It’s a beautiful thing, really, because it results in some unique and innovative efforts that address both urban and rural social and economic issues. It also means that no stone is left unturned. If you have a question, we try to have an answer. I have placed many a call to my colleagues, some usual and some not. Whether it’s identifying a strange-looking bug, finding a goat milk tester, addressing concerns about solar fields or simply providing updated Ohio farm custom rates, someone, somewhere can point us in the right direction. Pawpaw fruit? We’ve got it. Hemp? Sure. Pigweed? Absolutely.
Joe Boggs, ANR educator in Hamilton County, recently assisted Brad Bergefurd, horticulture specialist, and Matt Davies, assistant professor, with OSU Extension’s launch of the Marketing and Orchard Resource Efficiency (MORE) Ohio Pawpaw program, a statewide, grant-funded initiative to help growers produce and market high-quality pawpaw fruit. According to their team, pawpaws are used by several Ohio microbreweries to sweeten beer without masking the taste and aroma of the hops and barley. Pawpaws grow abundantly in the wild and have adapted well to changing climate and soil conditions. The MORE Ohio Pawpaw group is hoping that their efforts help interested Ohio farmers boost their income, particularly in the economically depressed southern and eastern regions of the state.
Ohio’s recent legislation of growing and processing hemp has also generated some questions that OSU Extension is working to address. While it is costly to grow, hemp can be profitable, particularly as a source of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, an extract from hemp seeds. Peggy Hall, ANR law field specialist, and Lee Beers, ANR educator in Trumbull County, have teamed up to educate inquisitive audiences on what is and isn’t legal when it comes to producing hemp.
Maybe you aren’t interested in growing something new, but preventing the growth of something old. We can help with that, too! Waterhemp or Palmer amaranth are nasty weeds that cause substantial increases in the cost of herbicide programs. For Mark Loux, weed specialist within CFAES, using education to prevent new infestations of these weeds is a high priority. That is why he is working with Ohio Soybean Council to spearhead a campaign titled, “No Pigweed Left Behind.”
Despite being a 4-H educator, I have two college degrees in agriculture, so I find the work of my ANR colleagues exciting. I applaud the efforts they are investing into Ohio’s farming communities. The program area is also at the forefront of my mind as we take some steps forward in hiring a replacement for Debbie Brown, our previous Shelby County ANR educator.
In fulfilling my desire to be proactive and start our new person on the right foot, I would like to start a list of topics for programming and research that are desired by our local community. Is there something you would like to learn about? Programs you see a need for? Subject matter that would entice you to attend a workshop? Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, we are here to serve you! Help us decide what the future of ANR programming in Shelby County will look like.
The writer can be reached at the OSU Extension office (937-498-7239) or by email at email@example.com.