OSU Extension continues to educate county residents



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 2021 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, agriculture and natural resource educator.

His report continues:

The beginning of 2021 had us working remotely. We had to offer our annual pesticide applicator trainings virtual, which was a struggle for both us educators and the applicators.

4-H was in planning mode, signing up for fair projects, camp planning, in school programing was all moving forward as planned, and the planning for the 2021 Shelby County Fair. All events we were wishing that would still happen.

Conference (ZOOM) calls have become a normal way to communicate and meet “in person.” It does allow us to interact with more people. We also don’t drive four hours for a three-hour meeting as much. Even though it is still nice to socialize like normal once in a while.

Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide responded, with our online presence and training. We continue this education online; https://agnr.osu.edu/programming combining in-person activities as much 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 soil health test study, recorded wheat disease probability, sampled for soybean cyst nematode and sent various soils to Columbus for nutrient analysis. 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. This did not stop them from working individually to keep the gardens beautiful or keep them from raising over 3,000 pounds of food for food banks. Even in a year like 2021 it did not stop Master Gardner volunteers. They handed out 300 packets of seeds for personal victory gardens, taught children about terrariums at conservation day camp and local fairs. The MGV’s conducted 1,017 hours of volunteer hours and 1,563 hours of continuing education to stay on top of over 60 hotline calls.

4-H was not the same starting 2021. Limited meetings, and no classroom work made for some uneasy feelings. Even though everything was different, a huge outpour of support came from around Shelby County. 4-H Camp was able to take place to get the kids back to normal. As fair rolled around in July, we were back to a full fair. In the fall the third-grade students at Fort Loramie virtually adopted a calf and are currently watching “Apple” grow and develop while learning.

As Shelby County OSU Extension moves forward into 2022, 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 as 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.