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Hardin County – The 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which officially created the Cooperative Extension System, will take place in 2014. This celebration will highlight Extension’s past and focus on the contemporary application of Extension’s transformational educational programming into the future. There will be a national celebration in May marking the signing of the Smith-Lever Act which provided for the Cooperative Extension Service.
The Ohio State University Marching Band plans to recognize OSU Extension in October during the homecoming football game with a special band show saluting Extension work in Ohio.  Extension work started locally in Hardin County in 1918 with the hiring of S.R. Heffron as the first county agent.  This was carried out with the cooperation of the Farm Bureau when war emergency seed corn was provided to farmers.  Two hundred producers attended threshing meetings that year and demonstrations were conducted on control of Stinking Smut Disease in wheat.
Extension has changed since then with the addition of 4-H and Youth Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Community Development educators in addition to Agriculture and Natural Resources.  What memories do you have of Hardin County OSU Extension?  Did you attend Twilight Tours, Sheep Tours, Conservation Tillage Club meetings, field days, pond clinics, or other Agriculture and Natural Resources programs?  If so, how have these programs made an impact on your operation?  Did you change the way you were doing something or try a new practice? 
The main idea behind agricultural extension is that research is conducted by the University in cooperation with local farmers and county educators, commonly referred to as agriculture extension agents.  The data collected by these county educators is then sent to the University for analysis by agriculture research professors.  These researchers study the data and make recommendations for crop and livestock improvements.  County educators work with field specialists and state specialists to make sure the new recommendations get back out to the counties, where it is applied and needed to make improvements in agriculture.
The way that the information gets back out to the counties may include farm visits, field days, face-to-face meetings, classes, newsletters, news articles, web postings, and other media.  Programs are planned to teach the new information in a way that is easy to understand and useful for the producer.  The important factor to consider is that the information being taught to the local producer is from unbiased university research and not just an internet web site that may or may not include factual information.  Extension provides many different programs which meet the needs of many different issues or problems faced by today’s grain farmers, livestock producers, or homeowners.
Agriculture and Natural Resources programs held in Hardin County this past year included OSU Extension Master Gardeners, a two-day Sheep Management Tour of Hancock, Marion, and Holmes Counties, Western Bean Cutworm research to find out whether this pest is invading our crops, Soybean Yield-Factor research to learn how to increase soybean yields, and a county Weed Survey to study which weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides.  Conservation Tillage Breakfast meetings were held in cooperation with the Hardin and Logan County Soil and Water Conservation Districts on such topics as plant diseases and fungicides, weed control strategies, grain marketing outlook, agricultural law and Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements for farmers.
Agronomy webinars were held to teach farmers about the latest methods of corn production, soybean production, and weed control in crops.  Sheep and goat webinars were held to instruct producers about lambing and kidding, feeding forages in a small ruminant digestive system, management and record keeping, and selecting the right breed for a market area.  884 farmers and crop consultants registered to attend the Conservation Tillage Conference in Ada, which had about 60 speakers and 50 exhibitors to learn the latest agronomic information.  
A fruit and vegetable Crop Walk program was held to assist both Amish and English horticulture growers with insects, weeds, and diseases that can be a problem with these types of crops.  65 farmers attended two Hardin County Pesticide Applicator Trainings held in Kenton to be updated on the latest information regarding pesticide use and safety.  Weekly conference calls were held regarding crop production in Hardin County to help prepare recommendations for the Crop Observation and Recommendation Network (C.O.R.N. newsletter) which helped contribute local information to over 3000 individuals in Hardin County, Ohio, and across the nation.  One-on-one instruction was provided to help local citizens with questions about horticultural insects, weeds, plant diseases, and farm management questions and concerns.
This year marks the 22nd year of rainfall reporting in all 15 townships in the county.  This monthly information has been provided by the Extension office to assist with growing season decisions for crop producers.  This year, real-time information will also be provided through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network.  This CoCoRaHS system will allow people to access timely rainfall information.  Both rainfall collection systems will complement each other, providing a wealth of rainfall data to assist farmers with fields around the county as well as across county lines for daily, weekly, and monthly rainfall information.
The Hardin County Agriculture Hall of Fame inducted six new people for their outstanding contributions to agriculture.  Monthly Ag Council meetings were held to share county and agricultural information with several guests and speakers.  Partnerships were continued with various commodity and other agricultural groups including the Hardin County Agricultural Society, Farm Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation District, Cattle Producers, Dairy Service Unit, Pork Producers, and Sheep Improvement Association.  A conservation practices lesson was taught as part of an environmental science day.  Work was done to assist local FFA advisors with job interview and public speaking career development events, as well as sitting on a local advisory committee.
Information has been shared through news articles, newsletters, internet, radio, and television interviews to inform the residents of Hardin County about the latest Extension programs and events in Agriculture and Natural Resources.  In the future, the work of Extension in Agriculture and Natural Resources will be based on the same principle – helping people solve problems to improve their farm operations.  Research will still need to be continued in the local counties by local people who know the counties the best and understand the needs of the producers.  These problems will need to be addressed in an unbiased way, with useful information that will improve Hardin County agriculture.  There is an un-ending supply of information available to those who know where to look for it, but providing the specific unbiased information that is research-based will continue to be the main focus of Extension work in Ohio.
For more information about OSU Extension, Hardin County, visit the Hardin County OSU Extension web site at www.hardin.osu.edu, the Hardin County OSU Extension Facebook page or contact Mark Badertscher, at 419-674-2297.

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