OSU extension office receives top awards

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Ohio State University Extension Service, Belmont County, walked away with three top awards presented at The Ohio State University Extension’s Annual Conference in Columbus on Dec. 5, on the campus of The Ohio State University.

Steven Schumacher, Extension Educator, Michelle Fehr, Program Coordinator, 4-H Youth Development, and David Jones, an active OSU Extension Supporter/Volunteer for over 25 years, were the recipients of the awards.

Schumacher received the Steve D. Ruhl Agriculture and Natural Resources County Extension Educator Award. Fehr was the winner of the Extension National Association NAE4-HA, Awards Achievement in Service and Jones The OAEP Appreciation Award.

Schumacher was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the Agricultural and Natural Resources Program area.

The award he received was established in 2007 and named after Steve D. Ruhl, the Morrow County OSU Extension Educator who passed away in the same year. It recognizes a county educator who has provided outstanding educational programs.

Ruhl was the first recipient of the award. Schumacher became the sixth recipient in 2012.

Schumacher was recognized for his 28 years of work with the Ohio State University. His work with Agricultural commodity group, Master Gardening program and Shale Energy Education on the local and state level was noted during the announcement of the award.

Don Breece, OSU Extension assistant director, said that Schumacher embodies the traditional role of a county agricultural agent of identifying with rural communities while taping into the skills and abilities of a modern Extension educator and Ohio State faculty member.

Fehr has been with the Ohio Association of Extension Professionals for six years.Four years ago she started a program called 4-H Under Construction w which combined several of the youth activities into one Saturday morning in hopes of increasing overall attendance. She coordinates and presents at the event which consists of a continental breakfast, member and volunteer recognition program, officer and advisor training for the coming year and numerous education sessions for youth volunteers and parents, including one of two county-wide Livestock Quality Assurance Programs. As a result the attendance for the event has tripled the largest of any of the events when offered individually.

Five years ago, Fehr presented a new fundraising opportunity to the 4-H Council in hope of providing alternatives to the current fundraising and membership program. The raffle has raised between $12,516.86 and $13,298.,41 in its early years under her leadership., The program has not only benefitted the local 4-H program directly as 80 percent of he profit goes to the 4-H Council, but also benefits the 4-H Endowment fund.

In an attempt to promote 4-H in Belmont County, she established the Belmont County 4-H Week in early February. It is a perfect time to recruit new members with county deadline. In 2007, Fehr received a 4-H Foundation Grant for $500 for the Reading Make the Best Better Program. Under the program, 4-H Y Youth and volunteers went to each kindergarten classroom in the county and read to the children and gave them their own book and 4-H pencil to promote 4-H and literacy. She has also established a relationship with a local radio station to place 4-H promotion spots on three local radio stations recordered by 4-H youth, volunteers and staff., Local newspapers, the Barnesville Enterprise and Martins Ferry Times-Leader work with Fehr in promoting many of the activities. The week has increased 4-H membership in previously underserved areas of the county

Jones and his wife, Grace, reside in Flushing and have four children – Crystal, Dave, Mike and Danny. Jones has served as chair of the Belmont County Extension Advisory Committee for eight years and was instrumental in getting the Extension Office moved to a safer location. He serves as a liaison with the county commissioners and is a regular spokesman for Extension at local and state legislative events.,

David has assisted in coordinating ANR programs in O Ohio and West Virginia and has given leadership in raising over $670,000 to construct seven livestock barns at the county fairgrounds., He donates his auctioneering skills for county fair livestock sale, camp and other community events and is active in his church, Rotary Club and other organizations. He has been called “a tremendous asset to Belmont County Extension.”