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Johnson County

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To support the commercialization of Purdue technology and the entrepreneurship of Purdue innovators, a group of Silicon Valley-based Purdue alumni established an all-volunteer grou provide start-up mentoring and networking support for Purdue innovators and entrepreneurs.

To contact SV BIG or for more information about the initiative, visit http://www.svbig.org/


Success Stories - Johnson County

In 2010, the Extension Staff offered three new programs - Backyard Fruit Production Series, Master Food Preserver Series and Operation: Military Kids.  Impact from these programming efforts follows.

The staff has continued working with Commissioner John Price on moving forward with the building project for our new office, which we moved into on November 4, 2010.  Our Extension Board and Staff are most grateful for the continued support of the Johnson County Commissioners and the Johnson County Council through this process.  Many thanks to the Franklin Community School Corporation and staff for continuing to provide office space during this time of transition. Please stop by the office at your convenience, anytime Monday-Friday,       8 AM – 4:30 PM.

The following highlights a few of our programs over the past year, take a moment to look and see how Purdue Extension – Johnson County has made a difference in the residents’ lives and community through its educational outreach.


Adventures in Backyard Fruit Production-The Purdue School for Back Yard Fruit Growers

 Many rural and suburban landowners wish to produce fruit from their own land and labors that will contribute to the nutrition of their family and increase the satisfaction that they derive from their land holdings.  These growers lack some of the working knowledge of the modern tools and techniques that will improve their productivity of quality fruit and allow them to harvest, use and store that fruit in a manner that is safe and maintains the yield and nutritional quality of the fruit.

The goal of the 2010 The Adventures in Backyard Fruit Production series was to provide a learning forum for current and prospective home fruit growers.  This series consisted of live Adobe Connect Pro presentations by Extension specialists and educators as well as locally lead pruning sessions.  Each session of the five part series was comprised of real time presentations which were received at each site from presenters at various locations. Participants were able to ask questions via a chat feature.

The Adventures in Back Yard Fruit series provided an educational opportunity to 315 participants (12 of which attended the Johnson County site) including 26 hosted sites and in many homes and offices across Indiana.

Upon completion of the series over 100 (60%) of the responding farmers/growers felt the program would help enable them to grow fruit in a successful way and 108 (65%) felt they would derive increased satisfaction from their fruit plantings. Over half of the respondents felt they would expand their fruit plantings and/ or had a better understanding of where they could get future questions answered.

A follow-up survey sent 6 months into the growing season found that 40 (45%) had expanded or improved their fruit plantings, 31 (34%) had now started growing fruit and 22 had prepared a site for the purpose of growing fruit in 2011. Forty five (51%) indicated an increase in consumption of home grown fruit in their diets with 13 (15%) indicating a value of $150 or more. Fifty eight (65%) said they had reviewed or made changes to their production, harvest, use and storage methods and 50 (56%) said they made changes that would improve food quality and safety and reduce pesticide residues.


Central District Judges and Leaders Clinic 2010

 The 4-H Youth Development Program relies on informed judges and leaders to encourage youth and to assist them in developing life skills.  Needs for this clinic include: provide training relevant for both judges and leaders, provide training on current topics such as the 4-H SET national mission mandate, annual updates of project requirements and volunteer responsibilities, and continued reinforcement of the true mission of our program - positive youth development!

There were 50 participants; each of the participants attended a general session and 4 breakout sessions.  Half of the sessions offered were relevant for judges and the other half for volunteers.  The clinic concluded with a mock judging session so the participants could have a hands-on experience to practice what they had learned.

From the responses received, 88% of the participants listed they gained knowledge from the various breakout sessions, 89% stated they will use the information they received with future activities, and 96% would recommend the session they attended to others.  After participating in the mock judging session, one participant stated, "It's always great to practice in order to feel more comfortable for the big show!"  After participating in the Biofuel Blast, another participant stated, "I didn't realize this was around [SET]! It's opened a whole new book of ideas for me!"

Participants were asked to list one thing they learned from each session they attended.

·    36 commented on specific judging techniques, ex: importance of knowing county and project rules/requirements

·    25 commented on specific project updates/requirements

·    21 listed new ideas for clubs, workshops, or service projects

·    12 commented on 4-H facts they learned about, ex: essential elements, national mandates,  4-H emblem use

·    9 commented on ways to help youth improve projects, mainly posters and notebooks


Johnson County Master Gardener Program

 Many individuals within Johnson County have a lot of interest in gardening for themselves and in helping their communities.  I held the Master Gardener Course in the Fall of 2009 to allow people to increase their knowledge on a broad spectrum of plant related topics in order to become Master Gardener interns.  This is a twelve week course which was taught by me and other extension educators.

There were 31 individuals who participated in the course in 2009. The average pre-test score was 66%. Upon the completion of this course, the average post-test score was 88%. The improvement in test scores by every individual in the class shows that the class participants all enhanced their knowledge of various aspects of plant care. Upon completion of their initial volunteer hours they will become certified Master Gardeners. Their service will help to enhance the communities within Indiana. Several interns from the Fall 2009 class have been highly involved in school and community projects in 2010.   There were 24 active Master Gardeners in Johnson County this past reporting year. They volunteered 486.5 hours of time to the surrounding community related to education. This volunteer time is valued at $8,538.07 to the community as representatives of Purdue Master Gardeners.

On Local Government

 Purdue Extension Educators and ECD program leadership worked with Larry DeBoer, Professor of Agricultural Economics to develop and deliver the On Local Government program. Several times each year this program is delivered via IP Video and hosted by Extension Educators from across the state including Johnson County. The audience for the program is local elected officials and others involved in the local budgeting process. Statewide, over 300 participants were present during the workshops conducted during the reporting timeframe.


· 100% found distance learning to be an effective mode of delivery

· 92% found it beneficial to participate jointly with participants from other communities

· 99% gained a better understanding of the local government budgeting process

· 99% indicated the program helped them identify issues related to their local government budget

· 99% indicated that the program provided new knowledge or tools to help them better prepare their budgets

· 97% would recommend the program to others

· 93% indicated that their participation would impact the fiscal well-being of their community.

Here are just two of the many comments from participants:  "This should be required attendance for all elected officials."  "This information will help me to respond to citizen concerns and questions."


Master Food Preserver Training

 Consumer and Family Science Educator has marketed and taught the Master Food Preserver Curriculum twice over the past year reaching 16 home canners. This curriculum is an intense 40 - hour class involving lecture, discussion and hands-on lab practice in the areas of freezing, canning using water bath and pressure canner methods, dehydrating foods, pickling foods and successful preparation of jams and jellies.

Impact:  Following the 40 hours of education and laboratory hands-on experience, participants rated their level of knowledge (1 = knew nothing about the topic to  5 = knew almost everything about the topic) on the topics as follows:

· Canning Low Acid Foods and Using a Pressure Canner changed from 1.63 before program to 4.5 after program.

· Canning High Acid Foods and Using a Water Bath Canner changed from 2.25 before program to 4.25 after program.

· pH and Determining Acidity of Foods changed from 1.75 before program to 4 after program.

· Adjusting for altitude when canning changed from 1.75 before program to 4.13 after program.

· Making Jams, Jellies, and other Fruit Spreads changed from 2.25 before program to 4.25 after program.

· Making Pickles, Relishes and Fermented Vegetables changed from 1.87 before program to 4.12 after program.

· Dehydrating Foods changed from 2.75 before program to 4.25 after program.

· Freezing Foods changed from 3.5 before program to 4.78 after program.


Participants’ Comments: "Thanks for teaching the Master Food Preserver class, I learned a ton!"

"This has been a wonderful learning experience, I have been doing a number of things wrong through my years of home canning - this was a real eye opener!"

"The hands-on labs were great; we got to experience what we had learned."

 Increasing Agriculture Awareness of the Johnson County Youth

 Agriculture awareness was promoted for Johnson County youth through ‘Incubators in the Classroom’ and ‘Agriculture Days’.  ‘Incubators in the Classroom’ is a program that allows youth to experience chicks hatching in the classroom.  The students learn about chick growth, chickens, feed (corn/soybeans), and where their food comes from.  This program reached 920 students (including pre-school) and teachers in 49 classrooms across Johnson County.

‘Agriculture Days’ were also offered to all of the 4th grade classes across Johnson County.  There were 555 students and teachers that attended Agriculture Day in 2010.  The students learned about plant growth, pollination, soil conservation, animal by-products, and livestock.  There were hands on stations pertaining to each of these topics.


4-H Honor Group

 Congratulations to the 2010 4-H Honor Group!  This year’s group met their goal of providing a covered eating area for visitors to the Johnson County Fairgrounds. The 4-H Honor Group is a summer intensive program designed to develop service and leadership in young people while focusing on the traditions of the Johnson County 4-H & Agricultural Fair.


Providing Food Sanitation to Food Service Industry

Purdue Extension Johnson County has organized and taught the ServSafe Retail Food Safety Recertification Program in Johnson County. The programming is marketed to food establishments through the local Health Department. The curriculum includes 6.5-hours of instructional time concluding with the certification exam. This class is a refresher course for food sanitation managers who need to renew their certification. The National Food Protection Manager Certification is valid for five years.

Impact:  427 of 454 (94%) participants received their National Food Protection Manager Certification, which brings them into compliance with the Indiana State Department of Health’s “Certification of Food Handler Requirements”. As a result of the educational outreach through the Extension Office and partnering agencies, the three month follow up survey indicated:

· 85% of participants washed hands more frequently during the food preparation and service compared to 28% prior to training.

· 82% of participants checked the temperature of food to make sure that it was cooked to safe temperatures compared to 28% prior to training.

· 81% of participants took the temperature of food to make sure that it was cooled quickly to safe temperatures compared to 18% prior to training. Some facilities do not keep leftovers; therefore do not check cooling temperatures.

· 76% of participants kept raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross contamination compared to 39% prior to training.

· 68% of participants made sure that all work surfaces, equipment and utensils were cleaned and sanitized before preparing and serving foods compared to 51% prior to training.

Food safety education is preventive health education. Food borne illness can result in paralysis, kidney failure, and joint inflammation and in some cases death. The economical and emotional costs of food borne illness are high and can have long term impact.


RECIPE for Growing Healthy Children

Consumer and Family Science Educator and Purdue University Dietetic Intern taught R.E.C.I.P.E. for Growing Healthy Children at local day care facility in Franklin, inviting Johnson County Child Care Providers. R.E.C.I.P.E. for Growing Healthy Children provides important training for child care providers so they can improve the nutrient value of their menus while staying in budget and creating a fun and educational environment for the kids.

Impact:  After participating in this workshop, 81% of participants planned to review their menus and make healthy changes such as increasing the number of times whole grains and whole fruits were offered and decreasing the fat content of the milk and meats provided. These changes will positively impact the children in Johnson County by encouraging healthy eating patterns, decreasing obesity related illnesses as they reach adulthood, and strengthening their social, educational, and growth development.


Walks Across Johnson County

 Purdue Extension and Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County have partnered over the past three years to encourage residents of all age groups to move by sponsoring the "Walks across Johnson County" the first full week of October.
Interested participants may register online, by phone or by mail and their ultimate goal is to walk anywhere, any time over an   8-day period to target 16 miles. This is the distance east to west across Johnson County. All participants are encouraged to report their miles, steps or time at the conclusion of the 8-day period - no matter how few or many.

Impact: During the 2009 "Walks across Johnson County", we had 540 walkers reaching 3,725 miles. Of the individual participants whom completed a 6-month follow up survey found that 60% of the participants had continued walking as a part of their regular exercise routine. Participants’ comments: "Thanks for this opportunity; it is a wonderful challenge - and I always feel great when I accomplish walking the 16 miles across the county!" "Thanks for promoting this event - helps give the unmotivated a reason to get out there!" "Walks Across Johnson County is great, simple, cheap, do-able challenge that requires the accountability (reporting # of miles walked) needed to actually do it."


(OMK) helps military families cope during deployment

 The goal of OMK is to provide much needed community support to the thousands of Indiana military children to help them adjust to changes that occur during the deployment cycle.  Separation from a parent can increase stress levels, lead to struggles in school, and/or cause a child to become emotionally and behaviorally at-risk.

In the past year, over 2,500 Indiana military children and their families have benefited from an OMK program.  Indiana OMK volunteers have assembled and distributed approximately 1,500 Hero Packs for military children this year (30 Hero Packs were made and distributed by the Johnson County 4-H Junior Leaders).  Each Junior Leader who filled Hero Packs wrote a letter thanking the child for their sacrifice!

Johnson County 4-H Junior Leaders also assisted with an OMK community-sponsored event, which had a positive impact on military families.  The members provided activities for military children while their parents participated in deployment briefings and meetings. 


Johnson county 4-H Gives Back!

 Engaged youth have a higher degree of self-motivation and vast creativity.  One of the  4-H Youth Development Ideals is generosity.  By pledging their hands to larger service, youth feel they are a valuable part of their community.

Numerous community service events occurred between the Johnson County Junior Leaders and local 4-H clubs including:  raking and bagging leaves for Masonic Home residents, fairground improvements, planting flowers for local churches, preparing holiday baskets, food pantry donations, stuffing of Operation Military Kids hero packs, shopping for Christmas Angels, card making for Habitat for Humanity families, Christmas caroling for local nursing home residents, recycling project during the county fair and a Cystic Fibrosis Walk.

For the 2009-2010 year, the total financial impact to the community was $30,931.88 (1762.5 volunteer hours times $17.55 volunteer hourly value).




Purdue Extension suggests the following links for information regarding Economic & Community Development.

Extension ECD Program - Provides information and educational programs to increase community vitality, build leadership capacity, enhance public decision making and resolve public issues.

Extension ECD Blog - The Blog focus is on five different program areas: Entrepreneurship, Workforce Development & Community Learning Centers, Community Planning & Visioning, Community Leadership Development and Public Issues Education.

Purdue Center for Regional Development - Supports initiatives to align economic policies across Indiana regions to produce positive impacts.