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Opinion: Cuts to Extension will be felt locally
Buckeye Farm News
I read the Buckeye Farm News March 26, 2009 newsletter. The article on the Ohio State Extension service (Amid budget cuts, Extension moves ahead with reorganization) is on track but lacks important local detail. Much like the restructure plan itself, the ramification and local impact has not been fully assessed.
Our county has formed a group of concerned citizens representing the farming community, County Fair Board, and some 326 4-H advisors and volunteers. We have begun a letter writing campaign targeting our State House and Senate representatives as well as our county commissioners.
The Extension service has announced the elimination of many county 4-H coordinator positions. The reorganization plan calls for this position to be managed by one person that will oversee a nine county region.
In Medina county alone, this existing position oversees 326 4-H volunteers, 52 4-H clubs, 26 committees, over 1,200 4-H members, project entries in the thousands, school education projects, two camps, and planning and coordination of all fair 4-H activities. All of this is dependent on a strong relationship with representation from the 4-H coordinator.
With this in mind, it is obviously an unrealistic expectation to assume that one person assigned to a nine county area can develop these relationships and have a physical presence to support this many activities and communication effectively with so many individuals.
I strongly encourage the Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau members to become locally organized, and aggressively express your local concerns to your elected officials. 4-H is an important educational opportunity for our youth and is a significant factor in the future of agriculture in Ohio.
~ Gene Sulzener, Medina County