Chic Spotlight: Tonya Horvath PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sara Elliott   
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 23:24

Chic Spotlight: Tonya Horvath 
An extension of OSU is helping those in Hamilton Country by partnering with local businesses and organizations. See how they're helping to enact positive change for the city and how you can help, too.


Tonya Horvath from the OSU Extension Office

Cincy Chic: Can you tell us about all the great things that the OSU Extension Office does for the city of Cincinnati?
Tonya Horvath, OSU Extension Office: The unique aspect of our office is that We not only work within the city, but as a whole, we work in the entire county. Between all of our programs – Family and Consumer Sciences (which includes Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Family Nutrition Program(FNP), Horticulture and Floriculture, and 4-H – we have accomplished many things. A special point is that Hamilton County is one of 18 Ohio counties, funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to provide community nutrition education through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
-Through the Real Money, Real World program, 105 youth were taught the importance of education in relation to their income. 95% of participants indicated that participating gave them a better idea of what is involved in earning, spending, and managing money.
- Reaching out to more than just the traditional 4-H youth, 4-H has gone into the classrooms of twelve different schools, some of these being part of a Homeschool Co-op, for in-school enrichment and after-school programming. Through various programs, over 3500 youth were reached.
-Due to the economic downturn, many Cincinnatians are returning to preserving their own food at home. Twelve workshops were held to train people to safely preserve food products and economize food dollars through canning, freezing, pickling, and fermenting. In addition, safe food preservation with Extension was featured on local cable television.
-1217 individuals participated in nutrition education through the Family Nutrition Program. Through a partnership with Findlay Market, participants received vouchers to double their SNAP benefits for meat and produce from local farms.
-A total of 254 adults and 1417 youth were reached by our EFNEP program. Participants learned how to select more nutritional foods and gain skills in food preparation, and food safety. Participants also learned better methods to manage their food budgets and related resources such as Food Stamps.
-The Tri-State Green Industry Conference, which provided 25 educational sessions in the areas of Annuals & Perennials, Greenhouse & Nursery Management, Tree & Shrub Care, Turfgrass Management, Green Infrastructure and General Pest & Disease Management, is a collaborative effort between the Extension Services of Ohio State, and Purdue, and the Cincinnati Flower Growers Association (CFGA) and attracted 375 participants. Not only did participants receive excellent non-biased research based information, 308 Ohio Pesticide recertification credits were given to applicators.
-We continued with our contract with The Center for Closing the Health Gap to develop vegetable gardening curriculum and training for their We Thrive! Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative.
- The monthly BYGLive! Diagnostic Walk-Abouts were held as well. These are hands-on training events held from April through October at various locations around Greater Cincinnati. The training is aimed at helping horticulture professionals avoid making costly pesticide applications by becoming more proficient in diagnosing plant pests, diseases, and physiological problems. The Walk-Abouts had over 250 participants in attendance.
-There were also 86 active Master Gardener Volunteers, 21 Master Gardener Volunteer Interns, and 25 new applicants who completed their 50 hours of training. The Master Gardener Volunteers contributed over 3805 volunteer hours and earned 965 continuing education hours in Hamilton County. Locations that benefited from these volunteer hours include, but certainly not limited to, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Gabriel’s Place, the Civic Garden Center, and the Greater Loveland Historical Society Museum.


Cincy Chic: What businesses and organizations are you partnering up with?
Horvath: Each of our program areas works with multiple partners. We continually seek out partners that will benefit from our work and vice versa. For example, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is a large partner with us. Not only do they allow our Master Gardner volunteers to complete needed volunteer hours there, we have also been able to complete infiltration test plots to get a better understanding of proper soil mixes. As you can see, this is a win-win situation for both entities. We are able to better our research and they benefit from numerous qualified volunteers. We are also partners with Job and Family Services, The Center for Closing the Health Gap, Su Casa Hispanic Center, Habitat for Humanity, PNC Bank and many more. Our partners are quite diversified and lengthy. We have our most updated list online at


Cincy Chic: How long has the OSU Extension Office been around?
Horvath: The Hamilton County office has been in existence since 1917. The Cooperative Extension Service system got its start in 1862 when Congress passed the Morrill Act, which provided for a university in each state to provide education to citizens in agricultural and mechanical fields. These colleges are known today as "land-grant universities." The Ohio State University is Ohio's land-grant university. Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914 to establish the Cooperative Extension Service. Once the Cooperative Extension Service was created, each county was tasked with creating an office from which the non-biased research being generated at OSU could be disseminated. You can find a more concise history of Extension at


Cincy Chic: What does the OSU Extension Office plan to do for the city in 2013?
Horvath: If funding is restored, we will continue to work with all of our constituents as we have in the past. We will also continue to add new venues with which to work. Each year, we encourage new partnerships and avenues in which to bring the research to the citizens of Hamilton Country from The Ohio State University.


Cincy Chic: Are there any other exciting changes coming in 2013?
Horvath: The potential partnership with Love Quest is the most exciting as it would tie in every aspect of our office. It would include creating Agriculture Learning Labs, Community Gardens, an apiary, disseminating relevant health education materials & creating educational events identified as regional priorities (lead poisoning, stretching the food budget, composting, etc) and even a therapeutic riding facility. The sky is the limit with this potential partner. We have found our goals of bettering the citizens of Hamilton County at the forefront and most important. We have discussed through the use of the community gardens, the ability to teach citizens how to grow their own food and then, through tying in OSU’s nutrition program, teaching those same citizens how to actually cook the fresh foods that they grew. On top of that, the potential of tying in the Freestore Foodbank and creating a method of getting fresh foods from local gardens in the hands of citizens is exciting. It has the potential to be an amazing partnership.
We have also been in discussion with Cincinnati State. This partnership could create multiple benefits for students at Cincinnati State as well as constituents of Extension. They are currently developing a major in Sustainable Agriculture Management to launch in Fall of 2013. With that new major, Extension could play a significant role. We are also looking at their state of the art nutrition/culinary program and how we might tie in with that program. Finally, they have the STEM Academy (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) – and 4-H has an interest in this because one of our major programmatic areas is STEM.
Finally, another avenue we are currently pursuing is tying in a 4-H Youth component to The Ohio State University Entomology program. This youth component would be added to educate youth in discovering invasive pests such as Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), and the newly discovered Walnut Twig Beetle. Our hope is by educating youth through the 4-H program, we are not only encouraging career paths, but we are also putting more “eyes” in the communities to help us discover these invasive pests before damage is done.
All in all, even with just these three potential partners, the possibilities for 2013 and beyond are exciting.


Cincy Chic: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Horvath: We can only continue this great work if we are funded. Right now, we are looking at early 2013 to close our doors. We have begun a community fundraising campaign. If anyone would like to help keep Extension in Hamilton County, click here to donate. Our main goal is $350,000. In order to keep our office doors open and operate at a minimum capacity, we need $70,000.

Sara Elliott -

Sara is the assistant editor at Cincy Chic. Send her an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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Last Updated on Friday, 28 December 2012 17:24