OSU Extension upholds its mission in 2020



SIDNEY — The Shelby County Ohio State University Extension mission is that “Ohioans have the knowledge and resources they need to actively engage in creating conditions in which they thrive.”

“In a year like 2020 that mission was important to uphold, along with finding new and creative ways to implement that mission. At times we were uncertain what we could do and how we could interreact with county residents. We as OSU Extension came up with new and creative ways to make sure Shelby County could still thrive in the face of adversity,” said Matt Schmerge, extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, OSU Extension Shelby County.

Schmerge’s report continues:

The beginning of 2020 began as usual with West Ohio Agronomy Day being held on January 13th. This activity has become a staple in the county for pesticide and fertilizer trainings, along with current agricultural updates. Over 150 people attended along with 20 sponsors consisting of local businesses, all committed to forward thinking agriculture. The day was filled with researched based information, market updates, water quality discussions, good food, and conversation.

4-H was in in full forward mode, signing up for fair projects, camp planning, in school programing was all moving forward as planned, and the planning for the 2020 Shelby County Fair.

COVID-19 then threw a wrench in all our schedules. We were forced out of our office to work remotely from home. Adjusting on the fly on how to communicate as an office and a community quickly took shape. Conference (ZOOM) calls quickly became our normal way to communicate and meet “in person.”

Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide responded with their own March Ag Madness http://go.osu.edu/agmadness, a series of online and virtual events. Even the famous Farm Science Review was held virtual and can still be viewed online. https://fsr.osu.edu . Our online presence and training continue this winter https://agnr.osu.edu/programming awaiting in person activities as soon as possible.

In the midst of a global pandemic, Shelby County Agriculture did not stop! Fields were worked, seeds planted, animals feed, all cared for and harvested, and work continued for many. The country deemed agriculture as “essential.” To many this did not change much, but it put agriculture on the forefront. Shelby County Extension continued with on-farm research. This year we conducted a side dress manure trial and a soil health test study. We laid some groundwork for future and continuous research. With your help we can and will build research based off Shelby County work. For ideas and past results check out https://digitalag.osu.edu/efields .

The Master Gardener Volunteers also had a long road to hoe this year. Meetings went virtual, their annual conference canceled, and they could not work in groups in their community gardens. This did not stop them from working individually to keep the gardens beautiful or keep them from raising over a thousand pounds of food for food banks. Even in a year like 2020 it did not stop Master Gardner Volunteer leader Doug Benson for earing the Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator Award.

4-H was not the same throughout 2020. Limited meetings, no camp, no classroom work, and only having a Jr. Fair made for some uneasy feelings. Even though everything was different, a huge outpour of support came from around Shelby County. Many donors, volunteers, and members stepped out of their comfort zones and adapted a fair schedule that would allow our youth to showcase their hard work from over the year. This was not perfect, but we all overcame challenges and put on the best fair possible.

As Shelby County OSU Extension moves forward into 2021, we still have some obstacles to overcome and unknows to be discovered. Allow us to lead and guide you to be the best stewards of agriculture and 4-H possible. Along the way many things have changed and have been tough to get through. It is with your help and support that extension is alive and well in Shelby County.