OSU Extension-Community Development in Medina County has responded to the Coronavirus quarantine by launching a new program connecting to a heretofore untapped population of youth and their families through non–traditional STEM programming. Kyle White, Medina County's community development Extension educator says, “The county CD goal is to meet the needs of the community beginning with understanding those needs and then developing resources to meet them. The need we identified was to provide engaging activities for youth who have lost interest in extensive 'screen time' brought on by the pandemic.”
Kyle explains that she used community connections to learn that simple STEM kits would be appreciated and determined that the kits would be distributed through low income food distribution networks providing meals to mostly low-income families. Kyle also stressed an additional goal for CD in Medina County is to expand their audience and bring more traffic to social media to build awareness.
The first 270 kits were assembled and delivered beginning July 14. That day the meal distribution team gave out 200 kits. The remaining kits went to a family center and libraries. Since then the demand for kits has grown to over 500 kits per week distributed in three locations across the county. The interest and connections are invaluable. This outreach has in turn garnered letters of support that will help with the 2021 budget request.
Local celebrities were invited to put together kits and send us pictures. It is hoped that those pictures will attract viewers (and followers) to the Medina County Extension website and Facebook pages. Celebrities who have taken the challenge so far include all three Medina County Commissioners (at their weekly meeting); Medina's Mayor Dennis Hanwell and his granddaughter; Colleen Rice of Leadership Medina County; and former Congressman James Renacci, to name a few. It is a fun way to really connect with people and teach them about how the Extension office serves the community in multiple ways.