2006 Seed Grants
Sustainable Community Index, A Framework for Community Planning
The Sustainable Community Index (SCI) project addresses the needs of Ohio communities that seek ways to live in a sustainable manner without endangering the welfare of future generations. This effort of The Extension Center at Wooster and the Agroecosystem Management Program of OARDC joins with the City and Regional Planning Department of the Knowlton School of Architecture builds on current research and addresses two OSU Extension Themes: "Strengthening/Enhancing Communities and Neighborhoods" and "Developing Opportunities at the Rural-Urban Interface."
A two day retreat for faculty, graduate students and professionals was held in October 2006. This retreat led to the development of the Sustainable Community Index (SCI) process. The SCI process was introduced in the work of the City and Regional Planning (CRP) studio course in Worthington OH in Spring, 2007. A paper has been presented at the Sustainable Urban Environment Conference in Galsgow, 2007 and has been accepted for presentation at the International Society for Quality of Life Studies Conference (December 2007). The collaboration (OSUE, CRP, and AMP) is alive and well and definitely has a future. It is our intention to seek other funding and apply the SCI to other communities.
This grant was submitted by Joseph Konen, Extension Specialist, Urban Programs; Maria Manta Conroy, City & Regional Planning; Casey Hoy, Entomology; Myra Moss, OSU Extension Center at Lima; Dana Oleskiewicz, OSU Extension; and Nancy Hudson, OSU Extension
Next S.T.E.P. Master Gardening Community Tree Stewardship Program
The Next S.T.E.P. Initiative of the Ohio State University Extension Center at Wooster is a multi-disciplinary program focusing on the social and economic benefits of urban forests for Ohio communities and citizens, the Ohio green industry, and the furtherance of scientific literacy. As a result of this grant, sixty OSU Master Gardener Volunteers completed a fifty hour “Ohio Trees” training program to become certified as OSU Extension Master Tree Stewards. Each volunteer compiles a tree collection and takes part in a community street tree project. The volunteers each “give back” at least twenty hours teaching others about proper street tree care. Also, volunteers completed over 1,000 hours of educational volunteer service to communities throughout the state of Ohio. Additional time was spent on various community projects throughout the state. A set of curriculum models were developed by the Next S.T.E.P. Team of Educators and Specialists on various Community Forest subjects. Finally, an inventory of Trees on the OARDC Campus at Wooster was conducted, which will be utilized to determine the dollar value and economic impact of the Community Forest on the campus grounds at Wooster. Six staff members and six volunteers spent 64 man hours working on this project. Poster presentations were given at the National Association of Community Development Educators Association, April 2007, as well as poster and session presentations at the International Society of Arboriculture in July 2007. There will be ongoing support and training of volunteers to keep this group together in an effort to expand upon work. Inventories conducted as part of this project will be used to quantify dollar value of trees at locations where inventories occurred. Firestone Park in Akron and the OARDC Campus at Wooster are two examples of this. It is the intent of the Next S.T.E.P. Team to conduct this program in the future.
Enhancing Communication Between Ohio's Emerging Cultural Communities and Farmers Who Provide Local Food and Fun
To bridge cultural gaps between consumers and producers, the OSU Direct Marketing Team collaborated with the OSU Foreign Language Center and local stakeholders for this OSU CARES project. Together, the team developed cross-cultural communication materials and cultural competency educational resources to help producers connect with consumers and communities. These multimedia materials were distributed through educational events, an easy to navigate web-based resource, and through local Extension offices and their collaborators. This new collaborative partnership enhanced communication between small farmers and Ohio’s emerging cultural communities by enabling learning beyond campus walls, useful research, and service that benefits the public. At least 100 farmers learned about this multicultural marketing communications program through educational sessions and web-based resources. Additional impacts include farmers reporting increased awareness and knowledge of consumer preferences and farmers reporting improved marketing communication practices which leads to the long-term impact of growing Ohio’s agriculture industry. In addition to producer/farmer project participation, at least 30 educators, market managers and other community leaders helped develop and utilize resources.
New resources are easily available for OSU personnel working with producers and communities throughout the state. Multicultural communications will continue to be explored through the Direct Marketing team’s research agenda. Throughout the project, the team discovered additional links with existing projects across the college. For example, “ethnic food demand and purchase trends” are explored through a Food Demand Trends Outlook in AEDE and “ Cultural Diversity: Eating in America” fact sheets are developed through Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences. This website has been incorporated into the Direct Marketing team website, directmarketing.osu.edu in a framework which allows for new resources, case studies, educational programming, and collaborators to join in this important effort.
This grant was submitted by Julie Fox, College of Food , Ag. & Environ. Sciences; Diane Birckbichler, Foreign Language Center; Abhijit Varde, Foreign Language Hypermedia Studio; and Charla Devine, DAMA
Revitalizing Neighborhoods Through V.I.T.A.: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
This grant program, V.I.T.A.: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a free tax preparation service available to low income, working families and offers financial literacy opportunities to families throughout the year. V.I.T.A., is designed to revitalize neighborhoods to help families out of poverty through the integration of asset building strategies. This initiative supplies individuals with the knowledge, resources and skills they need in order to be economically self-reliant, transforming communities from the inside out.
Fifty students from Professor William Raabe’s Accounting Service Learning class assisted with free tax preparation services at Godman Guild, 303 East Sixth Ave. Columbus, Ohio. Ten student and faculty volunteers assisted with free tax preparation services at the AAASEC site, 941 Mount Vernon Ave., Columbus, Ohio. At this grant period's close, both the Godman and AAASEC sites have served approximately 300 individuals yielding $600,000 in tax returns. Approximately 80% of the respondents who had their taxes prepared at Godman reported that they learned something new and plan to use it in their daily lives. The VITA project at Godman and AAASEC is currently serving as a model for the Franklin County EITC Coalition campaign, which has over 20 affiliated sites.
The two City endorsed VITA projects at Godman Guild and AAASEC have joined the Franklin County Earned Income Tax Coalition campaign, led by the United Way, which will help us become stronger and able to have a great impact on the respective communities we serve. They are mobilizing the VITA sites in the City of Columbus and Franklin County by helping to secure funding for major expenses. Additionally, they are forging partnerships with community, civic and corporate partners, thereby helping us to operate more efficiently and effectively as well as gain the recognition we need in order to truly make a difference in the lives of the families we serve. Our two VITA sites presently serve as a model to the other VITA sites in the community, and it is our hope that as the coalition becomes stronger, our respective sites will continue to thrive and transform the lives of residents and the communities in which they live. See go.osu.edu/VITA.
Making Strategic Decisions About Service Delivery: Organizational Assessments of Public Health Service Delivery in Marion County, Ohio
This OSU CARES grant, “Making Strategic Decisions About Service Delivery: Organizational Assessments of Public Health Service Delivery in Marion County, Ohio,” involved faculty from the College of Nursing and two units of Extension. The project built on current projects in the Marion community. This project, which entailed conducting organizational assessments of Marion’s two local health departments, generated information that supported both departments’ ability to fulfill their organizational missions and execute the core functions and essential services of public health. This support is especially important at this time, because the leadership of both departments is actively discussing merging the department into a combined public health department. Because both health departments underwent the same (albeit independent) organizational assessments, using the same tools and following the same basic structure, the data will be useful for focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of each department and identifying strategic priorities for a combined local health department.
The secondary purpose of the project was to develop a sustainable collaborative model between the OSU College of Nursing and OSU Extension that could provide the basis for securing external funding to replicate this project in other counties in Ohio. Service learning was accomplished by engaging a graduate student from the College of Nursing Community Health Nursing course in the assessment activities. This project will strengthen nascent partnerships between Dr. Chaudry and Ms. Longo and extended this partnership to other faculty in OSU Extension (Mr. Grunkemeyer, Ms. Moss). As a result of this project, two grant applications for additional work were submitted (one was funded), and two more are planned for submission in the 2008-2009 academic year.