To the Editor:
May 5, 2010, started like any other morning. I tapped our 11-year-old on the shoulder to wake him up for school and waited for the “just a few minutes mom,” plea. But instead I heard, “did the levy pass?” I had watched the preliminary reports and knew the news wasn’t good. I tried to explain that times are tough and a lot of people are stretched to the limit now. But deep down, I felt guilty. Not because I didn’t vote for the OSU Extension levy, but because I did absolutely nothing to ensure the levy would pass. The levy failed, but fortunately, by the grace of The Ohio State University, our county OSU Extension office was permitted to operate long enough to ensure the county 4-Hers could complete their projects and represent the county at the Ohio State Fair. On Aug. 9, the OSU Extension office closing taking the 4-H program with it.
As you enter Carrollton, there are billboards displaying sings representing various organizations within Carroll County. These signs serve as a proud displays of what our county has to offer. On those billboards you will see a sign displaying the OSE Extension and 4-H emblems. Although OSU Extension is a beneficial resource for county farmers as well as the other 28,000 residents of the bounty, I’d like to focu on 4-H for now. For those of you who are not familiar with 4-H, please allow me to explain what 4-H is. 4-H began over 100 years ago. With a network of more than six million youth, 540,000 volunteers, 3,500 professionals and more than 60 million alumni, 4-H h helps shape youth to move our country and the world forward in ways no other youth organization does. A longitudinal study conducted by the institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tuffs University shows youth engaged with 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school; nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college; 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behavior and 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.
Unlike sports, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4-H members cannot cross county borders to join a club once OSU Extension is no longer supported by their home county. In addition, unlike scouts, 4-H is open to boys and girls aged 9-19. Children ages 5-8 may begin their 4-H experience as a Cloverbud. Because the enrollment base is so large, it allow siblings to enjoy being part of the same club. Orderly meetings are conducted typically once a month and older members are usually elected to hold the offices of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The positions of reporter, safety leader and recreation leader are offices held by members. Although members conduct the meeting, 4-H advisors oversee meetings and support the group as a whole. Parents are always welcome and encouraged to attend meetings. An OSU Extension agent is assigned to the county to serve as an educator and facilitate coordination of the program.
Youth choose 4-H projects from the Family Guide. They conduct community service projects, fundraising events and recreational activities throughout the year. In addition, 4-H camp is offered and members can apply for scholarships to help them with their higher education goals.
The necessity of 4-H is being downplayed by some in our community. Why should the county pay for something only about 400 children benefit from? If we don’t, no one will. Although 400 sounds like a small number, it is the largest youth organization in our county.
The reduced levy proposed for the Nov. 2 ballot is .25 mill which means after assessment, a $100,000 home will be taxed $7.68 per year ($.64 each months) for the duration of the five-year levy. The contribution for the full five years for this levy for a $100,000 home, matches the signup fee for single season of baseball (not including replacement cleats for the ones your child outgrew). But instead of benefitting one child, you’ll be benefitting hundreds.
The passing of the OSU Extension levy will allow 4-H to return to our county. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to show your support or if you would like to learn more about the levy, please attend the next OSU Extension Levy Committee to be held at Baxer’s Ridge Church Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. This is your chance to embrace a wonderful program that makes a difference in young people’s lives. If you cannot attend this rally, please show your support by voting for the OSU Extension Levy Nov. 2.