POMEROY — While the physical offices of The Ohio State Extension program are closed around the state, Extension members are still on the job, developing new ways to connect with their communities.
Meigs County Extension Office Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator and Area Leader Michelle Stumbo said she and her colleges have been busy since the March 18 shutdown, and that resources are still available to the community.
Stumbo said she is working on ways to offer classes and programs that were scheduled before the COVID-19 restrictions began. A very important class for area farmers is the Pesticide Applicator Training for those with certifications from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. With the March session canceled, the program is now being offered on a one-on-one basis, or in a small class session this fall for those who need class hours.
The classes and training are part of the Ohio Pesticide Safety Education Program, and help those using pesticides do so safely and in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
According to the OSU Extension website, the program “provides training, education, and outreach to pesticide applicators about the safe, proper, and legal use of pesticides. The program works with farmers, businesses, and public agencies to protect human health and the environment and serves as a critical part of job training and business growth in Ohio.”
She said that the office had been working to provide a Master Gardeners class this fall, but due to COVID-19 size restrictions for meetings and their current space limitations, they are looking ahead toward spring 2021. Interest in reviving the Master Gardeners Program had surfaced, and Stumbo held an information meeting in January with residents who had expressed a desire to become Master Gardeners. Discussion on when classes could begin and ways to promote interest in the program were discussed. Stumbo outlined the program and explained the commitment that would need to be made to move the program forward.
She advised the group that the Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program provides intensive horticulture training and a serious commitment to the classes is necessary for success. She stress that volunteers are not required to have gardening skills or knowledge, and aren’t expected to become experts
After completion, Master Gardeners volunteer by assisting with educational programs and activities through their local OSU Extension county office.
“The program is part of the Extension office, so there is always someone to guide and assist with questions, you aren’t expected to have all the answers,” Stumbo said. “We are just looking for people who have a passion for gardening and are eager to learn and share their knowledge and time with others.”
Another part of Stumbo’s responsibilities are the 4-H Camping programs, which were suspended this summer due risk of COVID-19 in those settings.
In the meantime, she said, “We are working on positioning Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp to be better prepared for future campers. There have been several improvements that we are excited to share next summer, including a new building with restrooms closer to the boy’s cabins, renovations to the pool and putt-putt course and some updated team-building challenges.”
She also said that Meigs County 4-H alum Sarah Lawrence, Canter’s Cave 4-H new Camp Manager is doing an amazing job at Camp in assisting and moving forward with the renovations.
Stumbo said that this has been a difficult time for everyone in the agricultural community and that she looks forward to a time when the office will again be open. In the meantime, she wanted to again remind everyone that Extension staff are still available.
Meigs residents are encouraged to visit their website: https://extension.osu.edu/meigs-county-office, and follow them on Facebook at OSU Extension Meigs County for information on a variety of subjects, including COVID-19, masks, nutrition, recipes, and activities, as well as contact information for questions and for additional resources.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.