Gail’s Story

My story won’t fit either, so I hope you don’t mind me joining your post. The following is a copy of the letter I have submitted to my State Representatives:

The US House is proposing to severely cut Smith-Lever funds needed by 4-H and Extension Services. Ohio will lose $1.3 million for the fiscal year that is almost half over, which means more than two dozen lost jobs from already reduced staff. The Extension Service provides free unbiased, researched based information and trusted educational programming. It serves a growing, increasingly diverse constituency with fewer and fewer resources. At a time Ohioans have the greatest need for the benefits the Extension Service offers, cutting its funding will end up costing Ohio far more than the proposed cuts are trying to save.

To share with you the total scope of services and benefits an Extension Service offers would take more days and pages of testimony than you or I can afford, so I will offer testimony as to how just one extension agent, in only one of her many roles as an OSU-Miami County Agent, affected just one 4-H child and her community.

In the past 4 years, my oldest daughter’s 4-H activities have resulted in her
volunteering 800 hours (a value of $5600 @ $7 hr.) for community service for programs such as:
• Operation: Military Kids Hero Camps – helping the children of military families deal with the stress of deployment.
• OSU-Miami County 4-H Camping Program, -serving children from all over the county, -not just 4-H kids.
• CARTEENS – serving as a youth facilitator for the Ohio State Patrol’s monthly traffic safety program for juvenile offenders.
• Personally raising $2,000 in 4-H fund-raising projects, benefiting local non-profit agencies such as children’s hospitals, food banks, homeless shelters; deployed military servicemen and their families; disadvantaged children; and local families in crisis.
• Now too old for 4-H, her dedication to community service continues in her volunteer work as an ENT Oncology Student Aide at OSU’s Cancer Hospital, and for Habitat for Humanity.

She has provided a total of $7600, or an average of $1900/yr., in support of her local community.
The true value of benefits received by the recipients of her community service is immeasurable.
She is but one of 844 4-H members and 1809 youth served countywide; 317,286 youth served State-wide.
Consider the volume and diversity of the community service 4-H kids bring to their community and State, and you begin to understand the Extension Services’ influence is profound, far- reaching, and undeniably life changing.

There are benefits the Extension Service offers that simply cannot be measured. Please consider the profound impact they have had for my daughter, and remember, Extension Services help so many others like her:
• Thanks to participating in Citizenship Washington Focus, Operation: Military Kids, CARTEENS, State Leadership Camp, and countless local community service projects, my daughter developed remarkable leadership and citizenship skills. Coming from a small, underfunded public high school that was unable to offer but one AP course, her high school transcript could not boast the level of rigor other college applicants enjoyed. But thanks to her 4-H experiences, she was able to demonstrate qualities colleges valued highly. As result, she earned direct-entry admission to the three most competitive pharmacy programs in our state, one of which has a 5.6% acceptance rate.
• Thanks to opportunities the Extension Service offered, my daughter was able to demonstrate leadership and citizenship that resulted in her being selected as an Ohio State University Welcoming Leader; a Dayton Better Business Bureau 2010 Student of Integrity Winner; DAR, Lion’s and Rotary Clubs Citizenship Awards winner; a Top 10 Girls Nation Finalist and City Central Committeeman at Buckeye Girls State; and class officer throughout high school, including President of the National Honor Society.
• Her 4-H resume led to her being awarded over $25,000 in local scholarships, which was especially needed her senior year due to her father’s unemployment.

The example I offer demonstrates the difference just one extension agent made, and it illustrates only one of the many roles this extension agent fulfills. She illustrates why the lost of even one extension agent is too costly, – the cuts in funding proposed by FY 2011 CR will cost the jobs of more than two dozen.

The Extension Service builds communities in ways that are perpetuated across generations. Like my daughter, I started in 4-H, and the leadership and service skills it fostered remain with me. 4-H led me to my career as a Family and Consumer Science Teacher, and being recognized as a Dickenson T. Guiler Excellence in Teaching Fellowship Award winner. The value of community service 4-H instilled in me led me to co-found and help fund the start-up of a State approved, local, non-profit early childhood center which provides high quality care and services to families of children age 3 – 13. I also volunteer as a Science Olympiad Coach and 4-H Advisor. The Extension Service is responsible for my livelong dedication to serving youth and my community. How does one put a dollar value on this? It’s difficult to appreciate until you live in a community that hasn’t a single State approved child care facility, or enough citizens willing to give their time and expertise to try to make their community a kinder and better place.

My testimony is not unique; it’s true of countless others who haven’t yet realized the need to alert you to the Extension Services’ true value and importance. At a time when Ohio continues to lose critical services due to budget cuts, it is a fool’s game to cut Extension Services that empower individuals with resources, skills and the character needed to strengthen their communities.

Please do all that is in your power to stop the proposed cuts in the Smith-Lever funds proposed by FY 2011 CR, and restore funding needed by the Ohio Extension Service. Our communities cannot afford to lose this vital and effective community building program. It is a cheap investment that has consistently yielded high returns year after year, and Ohio needs its services now, more than ever.


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