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According to Larry Hall, an OSU Extension agent for Knox County, "Each extension office is tailored to the community that it is in. We are here to provide information, you know. We're kind of like traffic cops on the infomation superhighway rather than road kill. We try to facilitate the flow of information."

The OSU Extension is the "outreach arm" of The Ohio State University which aids in fulfilling the land-grant university mission of educating all Ohioans in eighty-eight counties. Larry Hall explains, "Because you can't use a cookie-cutter approach in talking about a rural community versus an urban community versus one where they are split down the middle. Tradition plays a huge part in extension. We were developed out of the Agricultural College down at the Ohio State University, but we also have the ability to build coalitions wherever they need to be built. We have opportunities to work with community leaders, with business people in an effort to get our programming into the hands of the people that need it most."

The Extension focuses on four major areas of educational programing: Agriculture and natural resources, community development, family and consumer sciences and 4-H youth development. Agriculture and natural science programs focus on farming, gardening, environmental resource management and protection. Community development information is available on attracting new businesses and sustaining old ones, recycling and composting, job training and leadership development. Family life, nutrition, home-based businesses and budgeting are aspects of family and consumer sciences. 4-H youth development involves career exploration, leadership, self-esteem development and finally, kids at risk.

The OSU Extension has extended beyond solely serving the farming community and currently addresses the needs of all the residents in Knox County. Larry Hall states that, "There are times when you get into anecdotal little situations where you say, 'oh yeah,' grandfather did this and it always worked.' Well, maybe it did and maybe something else caused it. We are really trying to do research and sometimes we are good and sometimes we are very poor at it, at trying to figure out what really works and what doesn't. It is important that we get out into the grassroots community and ask, 'what do they need?' Rather than coming at it from a government agency and saying, well, we think this is what you need and this is what we are going to shovel at ya'' and when actually they may not have wanted that particular help at all." As a means of reaching Knox County, the Extension provides a listing of upcoming programs in the newspaper every Saturday. These programs span local, state and even the national level. According to Hall, "One of the latest things that OSU has been involved with is their Excel program where they gather together some learned researchers to deal with a particular issue and there's like Dairy Excel for people who run dairies, there's an Equine Excel for horse people. Maybe they'll talk to a veterinarian that will address different health concerns in the now-a-day world, you know, for horses and how to best combat those." Therefore, whether you are a "horse person," businessperson or homemaker, the Extension has something for you. The Extension's vision and set of values are not limited to agriculture. They deal with the concerns of the community as a whole.

photo credit: OSU Extension Website

Click here for more information on The Ohio State University Extension agency website.

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