COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohioans who have questions -- on everything from personal finance to agricultural enterprise budgets, from gardening to crop production, from nutrition to producing fruits and vegetables safely -- have a new way to find answers.
County websites of Ohio State University Extension now have an "Ask a County Expert" tool where Ohioans can ask questions related to the educational programs Extension offers.
"The Ask an Expert tool makes it much easier for clientele to ask us questions directly," said Jerry Thomas, leader for Innovation and Change for OSU Extension who helped develop the tool. "And, it will help speed up our response time and find the right person to answer their questions. If a county doesn't have that particular expertise, we can access Extension personnel across the state and across the country. It will really help us leverage our resources."
OSU Extension's county websites are easy to find: Just type the name of the county in a browser, followed by "osu.edu." So, the OSU Extension office in Cuyahoga County is http://cuyahoga.osu.edu; the website in Clermont County is http://clermont.osu.edu.
When someone submits a question, it goes first to four "wranglers" -- personnel from around the state -- who then route questions to an Extension professional with the appropriate subject-matter expertise.
"The whole idea is to make our information more accessible and expand our scope," Thomas said. The questions answered will become part of the frequently asked questions on eXtension (pronounced "e-extension," online at http://www.extension.org), a national network offering Extension expertise.
The Ask an Expert online tool arrives during the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act of 1862. The Morrill Act established land-grant universities in every state to promote education in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts and other practical occupations at a time when much of higher education was focused on learning Latin, Greek, rhetoric and other elements of a classical education.
In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act formed the Cooperative Extension System, formalizing a partnership between land-grant colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to "extend" the work of the universities beyond the traditional academic student to residents throughout the state.
In Ohio, OSU Extension offers educational resources and programming in four program areas: agriculture and natural resources, including environmental issues as well as horticulture, yard and garden; family and consumer sciences, including nutrition, food safety, family relations and personal finance; community development; and 4-H youth development.
To use Ask an Expert, log on to a county website of OSU Extension and click on the "Ask a County Expert" icon.