Megan Arnold joined the Ohio State University Extension office in August. (Photo by J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune)

With hopes of dispelling some myths about the Ohio State University Extension office, Megan Arnold is taking hold of the reins as the new area leader for the Wood and Lucas County offices.

She joined the office Aug. 15, but there is a lifelong familiarity with what the office does.

“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but that kind of agriculture, farming background, commitment to county fairs and all those things definitely runs in the family,” Arnold said.

Her parents were recently inducted into the Ohio Fair Managers Hall of Fame. A 4-H alumna — starting as a 9-year-old — Arnold had 11 years in the group, and has continued since as a volunteer.

She is also familiar with the area. She taught English at Bowling Green High School and then worked in the administration at Bowling Green State University, most recently as assistant director, Orientation and Transition Programs. That’s where she also received her Ph.D., in Higher Education Administration, a background that has direct application to the new job.

Familiar with the role of the extension, Arnold knows that the groups that regularly use it are already familiar with the operation, through the existing outreach. But she wants it to be more and bigger.

“What I would love to see is us able to do that with the more general population,” Arnold said. “In a perfect world, everybody in Wood County would know what OSU Extension is and what we do.”

They currently work with 4-H, do community development, family and consumer science programs, agricultural and natural resources work. However, all of that has been changing, bringing in more high tech and robotics.

“We have so many great programs right now,” Arnold said. “You don’t have to be in livestock to do 4-H.”

Their recent Fourth Grade Farm Tour demonstrated aerial drones and their applications to modern farming.

“4-H has a really large focus on STEM. Right now they have a whole team developing programs with STEM,” Arnold said.

She talked about how modern farming has tractors, combines and other equipment that is like a spaceship, with automation like something out of “Star Wars.”

Their office has an agriculture and natural resources educator that works directly with farmers.

“It’s really a full range of services and opportunities to connect with the community, much of what the extension does is both science base and research based, in an effort to keep current with technology to help improve communities,” Arnold said.

The office is considered an urban extension office, because of the growth in cities and having a dual office with Lucas County.

There are program four areas of life that the extension offices cover: 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, community development and family and consumer sciences.

“It’s very broad, and all those areas interweave quite a bit, but really the mission of the extension is to bring science based community assistance into the counties … and do it through the lifespan,” Arnold said.

She said that 4-H starts with 4-year-olds and engaging community members professionally, and through wellness pieces throughout life. Each office has three educators and related program assistance coordinators.

Arnold encourages readers to visit the new Lucas County offices at the Toledo Botanical Garden.