By: Tony Staubach, Program Manager, 4-H Youth Development
(To view this article in its original format, click here)
Beginning in March, 2014 Cincinnati Public School’s Rothenberg Preparatory Academy participated in the pilot 4-H Agri-Science in the City program with OSU Extension. The pilot was successful in introducing students to Agri-Science and through a partnership with the Rothenberg Rooftop School Garden offered a daily enrichment program for all students.
In August, 2016 OSU Extension, 4-H Agri-Science in the City moved their school-based program to Pleasant Hill Academy to come into alignment with Cincinnati Public Schools Vision 2020. Pleasant Hill was identified as the initial Environmental Sciences School. The first few months of the program have been successful in again introducing students to environmental sciences but also to helping them understand their connection to the food system.
It is important to ensure that youth have access to healthy food throughout their day and that they are equipped with the skills necessary to strengthen our food system as they grow older. 4-H Agri-Science in the City works to ensure that youth are empowered and educated to meet the diverse needs that exist in their future.
Food is the third greatest expense for the typical American household. Approximately 13% of the average budget is consumed by food.  Consequently, 12.7% of US households are food-insecure, 7.7% of those households classify as having low food security and 5% classify as having very low food security. Ohio ranks above the national average in food insecurity.  Families and children struggling with food insecurity often reach out to assistance programs. This means that 16 million children, or one in five, receive food assistance nationwide. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 50% of children under 6 and 41% of children 6 or older are classified as low income.
Approximately 280 students from Pleasant Hill have received 75 hours of instruction focused on agriculture and the food system. With a move to a new school, the 2016-2017 goal for 4-H Agri-Science in the City is to ensure that every student is included in agriculture education in some capacity by the end of the school year. Additionally, the hope is to maintain the afterschool 4-H Club at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and add two new clubs to the roster, one at Pleasant Hill and one at Silverton Paideia.
Of the students involved, data collected has identified current strengths and areas for continued education. All students surveyed understood how and why the physical properties of water change and nearly all students were familiar with the seasons and why seasons occur. However, students continue to need education around the food web and the importance of soil in food production. This data is not shocking because youth in urban environments have often lacked access to agricultural and food system education and continues to identify the need for more programs like 4-H Agri-Science in the City.
Thanks to the generous legislative support of Rep. Jim Buchy, 4-H Agri-Science in the City has been able to provide transformative experiences to all of the students served and looks forward to more success in the future.
To view the full report, click here.
 (USDA, 2014)
 (Alisha Coleman-Jensen, 2016)
 (United States Census Bureau, 2015)
 (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2016)