EATON — The Preble County Commissioners met with Christy Millhouse from Preble County’s Ohio State University Extension office via conference call on Monday, Jan. 11.
Millhouse provided newly-elected commissioners Rachael Vonderhaar and Adam Craft with an overview of what the Extension is, and what she and her staff do.
OSU Extension offices are the “outreach arms” of the university, Millhouse explained, with a presence in all 88 counties in the state. The offices have different priorities which are focused on, like health and wellness, she continued, “and environmental quality, workforce development, development of vibrant communities, rising cost of life and sustainable food systems, and those types of things.”
OSU Extension has several different areas the local staff works on, including 4-H Youth Development, which is the main focus of Preble County’s Extension office.
“So my focus, and my job description right now, is just doing youth development work,” she noted. “That’s very broad and can be a lot of different things.”
Funding for the local office was taken down to that single programming area in 2009.
“One of the things that I teach that’s really a family consumer science program is our successful co-parenting program. It’s mandated by the courts. Parents who are divorcing or separated are mandated to do that program and that’s one we continue to do because it’s one way to generate a little bit of funding for our office,” Millhouse said.
She also explained what a natural resource focused and an economic development focused person could do.
Vonderhaar asked Millhouse how the needs of a community were decided and when it was last assessed. According to Millhouse, the program’s priority areas were reviewed in 2018. There is a 4-H Advisory Committee she meets with on a regular basis. An Extension Advisory Committee met last in 2018, and Vonderhaar requested a list of the members of that committee. According to Millhouse, she is currently working to add new people and other community partners to that committee, which is a sounding board for questions about expenses, needs in the community, etc.
Millhouse’s work also includes working with the Fair Board and programming surrounding Junior Fair.
Because of the difficulties 2020 brought with it, Millhouse shared with the board some of the activities her office had done in 2019 and which will pick up in 2021. One of those was establishing a community garden in the Village of Lewisburg, participating in the village’s block parties, and working on developing a “Maker’s Space” in the community library using grant funding. They were also building a real-world financial literacy program, which was put on hold due to the pandemic, she is looking to get back on track.
A grant of over $20,000 will be announced soon which will allow some additional new programming for the office to get started, Millhouse said.
Millhouse also explained she had helped develop, with the Preble County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Steering Committee, the Junior Leadership Preble County programming, which is currently on hiatus but had a “really exciting” year before COVID and plans to continue next school year.
Millhouse noted, that through this last year despite COVID, “We have continued to do programming, we just learned a lot like everybody else has about adapting. “We’re able to hold some of our stuff in person, just with some really big restrictions.”
Millhouse will be providing quarterly updates to the Preble County Board of Commissioners.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr