The local OSU extension office is seeking a budget increase.
Extension representatives spoke to Madison County commissioners Monday to request a 13 percent budget increase for the coming year, from $116,000 to $131,000.
Kirsten Holt, Extension director, Mary Griffith, agriculture and natural resources educator, and Julie Fox, OSU Central Region Extension Director, said the increase would help pay to beef up programming for youth of all ages, but especially teens and also for programming for agriculture and natural resources.
Holt said while 4-H programming excels in grabbing and holding on to the younger age groups in Madison County, it needs help strengthening teen programs.
The junior high and senior high set need to know a few things regarding career building, their financial future — how they’ll support themselves — and health risks, such as peer pressure, stress management and substance awareness.
“They’re starting to experience some of these things at their age,” Holt said.
She also wants to have them work on their leadership skills.
Commissioner David Dhume asked if any data existed to support the fact that 4-H begins to lose participants at that age. Holt answered that she didn’t have any.
However Fox said strategic attention to that age group “is effective if you want to have an impact.”
“The counties that reach those people do it strategically,” she added.
Holt said she will ask the teens what programs they would like.
“It’s important to include them. If they have a good time, they’ll pull more kids in,” Holt said.
On her side of the agency, Griffith said she’s looking to offer assistance to the younger generation of Madison County farmers, who may be in the transition of taking over control from an aging, older generation.
“My interest is in farm management success,” she told commissioners.
Griffith acknowledges many economic issues that face farmers today, including record keeping, tax issues, water quality and low prices for crops.
“We look at farm management issues, helping to be profitable and sustainable in tough times,” Griffith said.
In other business, commissioners approved being a member of the Rural Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO). Madison County would be part of a group of rural counties surrounding Franklin and Delaware counties. Members include Fairfield, Pickaway, Union, Marion, Morrow and Knox counties.
“It’s a no-brainer for us,” said Commissioner Paul Gross.
Union County Commissioner Steve Stolte and Thea Walsh, director of transportation systems and funding for Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), spoke to commissioners on Monday about the logistics.
Stolte said each county agrees to a memorandum of understanding, which would be ongoing for two years to allow time for a plan to be created.
The planning organization is a pilot program developed by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) created in an effort to provide transportation planning assistance to ODOT.
Stolte said a subcommittee would be formed with representatives from each county.
Membership would be from county and/or city officials, business leaders and township representatives. Each county would propose its own transportation projects.
There is no cost for membership during the first two years. After two years, a fee would be paid from each county to cover administrative costs.
The fee has not been determined.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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