CFAES Impact: November/December 2023

  1. New collaboration increases CFAES enrollment

    More students are pursuing agricultural-related majors at CFAES this year thanks to a new initiative committed to increasing interest in and enrollment of students interested in studying agriculture at Ohio State.

    The Buckeye Agricultural Leaders Pathways (BALP) program aims to increase undergraduate CFAES enrollment by prioritizing early admission and scholarship notification and by making sure there is additional consideration in the application review of experiences and leadership opportunities afforded to students participating in FFA and Ohio 4-H youth development, as well as skills acquired in farming experiences, said Jill Hampshire, CFAES director of undergraduate recruitment and enrollment.

    The university’s Office of Strategic Enrollment Management collaborated with CFAES to implement BALP last year with a goal to increase interest in agricultural-focused majors, many of which connect directly to STEM and foster a passion for science and technology, she said. Admitted students received enhanced communication from both the college and its departments and were invited to participate in robust visit opportunities showcasing the amazing hands-on learning that takes place in CFAES classrooms and its Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory.

    The result? For first-year enrollment in the agriculture-related majors that were part of this pilot, CFAES experienced a 45% increase. Across the college overall, including programs not part of the pilot, CFAES saw a 16% increase in first-year enrollment.

    “We are committed to ensuring that more young people across Ohio can attend our college and find a pathway into our workforce,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president of agricultural administration and CFAES dean.

    Also this year, Ohio State joined the STARS (Small Town and Rural Students) College Network, a consortium of 16 national colleges and universities committed to helping rural students enroll in, succeed at, and graduate from the college of their choice. “CFAES will be supporting the efforts of Ohio State Undergraduate Admissions to carry out this charge,” Hampshire said.

    The focus this first year will be on the 32 Ohio Appalachian counties where we see a significant number of first-generation students from economically distressed communities. Additional support on application completion and opportunities to visit campus will also take place throughout the fall, Hampshire said.

    For more on BALP, contact Hampshire at For more information on the STARS College Network initiatives, contact Dan Pohl, Ohio State undergraduate admissions specialist, at

  2. OSU Extension works to help farmers navigate farm bill

    Farmers and producers wondering how the next U.S. farm bill could affect their farm operations and how it could impact the overall state of agriculture in Ohio can count on CFAES faculty and staff to have answers.

    CFAES Farm Financial Management and Policy Institute (FFMPI) experts are preparing to work with farmers and producers statewide upon passage of a new farm bill. FFMPI will help inform producers as they make important farm financial decisions, said David Marrison, FFMPI interim director.

    “The farm bill is crafted to create a farm safety net for farmers, which is important to Ohio farmers, who make up the largest industry in this state,” he said. “Titles that are of special interest to Ohio producers include the commodity, conservation, and crop insurance titles. It’s important for farmers to understand how potential changes in each of these programs may work and also how any changes may impact their business decisions.” 

    “Another large portion of the farm bill is reauthorization for research and outreach programs, which for land-grant universities like Ohio State, is important. With CFAES being the cornerstone college of a land-grant university, it’s important to drive the research that we are doing to help Ohio farmers,” Marrison said. 

    Marrison, who is also a CFAES professor and a farm management field specialist with OSU Extension, said an example of that work includes the guidance provided to farmers on factors to consider when deciding on the legislation’s farm safety net issues during the previous two farm bills.

    “Following the passage of the 2014 farm bill and the 2018 farm bill, we worked with Ohio farmers and producers as they worked through the decisions they had to make when choosing which Title 1 crop safety net programs to enroll in,” he said. “That was a really big decision, so we methodically walked farmers through each program to see which one would work best for each of their individual farm operations.”

    “CFAES’ new FFMPI was created last year with the goal of the integration, translation, and communication of CFAES’ farm management and ag policy presence that addresses critical farm management and policy issues affecting Ohioans,” said Dean Kress. “Our experts will continue to monitor the progress towards our next farm bill and will be actively working to educate and support Ohioans to help them anticipate potential impacts and outcomes for their agricultural businesses.” 

  3. Farmers’ child care needs


    By Shoshanna Inwood 

    Kerissa and Charlie Payne are beginning farmers raising two daughters on a central Ohio farm. By conventional measures, their livestock farm, Covey Rise, is a success. Yet, below the surface, the challenge of finding quality, affordable child care has kept their business from growing and reaching its full potential. 

    “It feels like we’re always split between keeping the kids safe on the farm, being good parents, and the needs of the farm,” Kerissa Payne said. 

    The United States has a child care crisis, yet the issue remains largely invisible in the farm sector. Farm parents are working parents who must juggle child care while working what can be one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in America. 

    Over the past 10 years, rural researchers have interviewed farmers nationwide to understand how child care affects farm business economic viability, farm safety, farm families’ quality of life, and the future of the nation’s food supply. What we found debunks common myths that have kept child care in the shadows of farm policy debates and points to solutions that can support farm parents. 

    Myth #1: Child care is a not a problem in the farm sector. 

    Nationally, 77% of farm families with children under 18 report difficulties securing child care because of lack of affordability, availability, or quality. And 48% report that having access to affordable child care is important for maintaining and growing their farm business. 

    Myth #2: Farmers don’t need help with child care. 

    It’s a myth that farm parents want to do it all on their own and that when they need help, they have family members who can watch the children. This might work if relatives are nearby, but almost half of farmers surveyed said their own parents were too busy to help with child care, had died, or were in declining health. 

    Often, farm parents have moved away from family and friends to find affordable land, and the lack of community makes child care harder. The problem is that they cannot find or afford help.

    Myth #3: Children can just come along when doing farm work.

    While wonderful places to grow up, farms can be dangerous. Every day, 33 children are seriously injured in agricultural-related incidents, and every three days, a child dies on a farm. Almost all farm parents—97%—have worried their children could get hurt on the farm.

    Parents constantly weigh the risks and benefits of having children on the farm. One farmer planned to farm with his son but admitted he “didn’t think about a baby not being able to be out in the sun all day,” and was struggling to balance child care and farm work.

    Finding solutions

    Farmers spoke about solutions including free or affordable quality child care, before- and after-school programs, better parental leave policies for wage and self-employed workers, financial support for safe play areas on the farm, college debt relief, free college tuition, and more affordable health insurance.

    For the first time in history, the American Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union have included child care in their policy priorities for the 2023 federal farm bill. In March, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced a marker bill for the bipartisan support to help increase access to affordable, quality rural child care.

    As one Ohio farmer put it, “If America wants farmers, farm families need help with child care.” We would do well to listen. 

  4. 4-H founded in Ohio

    Let the official record show, 4-H was founded in Ohio. Thanks to the efforts of Mike Turner, U.S. representative from Ohio’s 10th congressional district, the 4-H section of the Library of Congress’ Join In: Voluntary Associations in America exhibition has been corrected to reflect that the network of youth agricultural programs was founded in Clark County, Ohio, rather than what it originally read as being founded in Clark County, Iowa, according to a news release from Turner.

    In 1902, with assistance from the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station and The Ohio State University, A.B. Graham started a rural youth program for boys and girls in Clark County to promote vocational agriculture and familiarize students with new agricultural technology. This youth program is considered the founding of 4-H.

    Ohio 4-H, the youth development arm of OSU Extension, offers 4-H programs to youth in all 88 of Ohio’s counties. As America’s largest youth development organization, Ohio 4-H, which served 130,859 members in 4-H clubs in all Ohio counties last year, emphasizes leadership and citizenship skills. Ohio youth, ages 5–19, participate in 4-H through community clubs, camps, schools, and short-term experiences.