Shelby County Office

810 Fair Road
Sidney, OH 45365

Hours of Operation

8:30a.m. - 4:30p.m.


Victory Gardens April 5-10

Victory Garden







Victory Gardens, originally called war gardens, began during World War I. Their purpose was to have the public start vegetable gardens to supplement the overall food supply, and at the same time give them the feeling that they were helping in the war effort. The practice was revived during World War II with great success. With the Covid-19 pandemic creating a hardship for many today, Victory Gardens are once again in vogue.

In cooperation with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are encouraging members of the public to start their own Victory Gardens by distributing free starter kits of seeds across the state. Locally, Shelby County Master Gardeners will be giving out seeds at various locations throughout our service area which includes neighboring Auglaize County and Mercer County during the week of April 5 through 10.

Each kit will include sampler packets of two of the following vegetables: red beets, cucumbers, lettuce, and radishes. All kits will also include a packet of mixed sunflower seeds. Planting and growing instructions will be included, and Shelby County Master Gardener volunteers may be contacted for additional information by calling the Extension office at 937-498-7239 or emailing Gardeners will also receive a small “Victory Garden” sign to display in their garden. They will also be able to post pictures of their gardens on a website maintained by the ODA. More information is available at

“This would be a great opportunity for families to get their kids involved in gardening,” said Doug Benson, Volunteer Coordinator of Shelby County Master Gardeners. “All of the plants are easy to grow and require little space.”

A very limited number of kits  will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at each distribution site. In Shelby County, all distributions will be April 10 at the local public libraries: Amos Memorial Library in Sidney 11:00-1:00; Anna library 9:00-11:00, Botkins library 9:00-11:00, Fort Loramie library 11:00-12:00; Jackson Center library 9:00-11:00; and Russia library 10:00-11:00.

Other locations and times include: Wapakoneta public library April 6, 10:00-1:00; Mercer County Extension office April 9, 10:00-12:00; St. Marys public library April 10, 10:00-2:00; St. Henry public library April 10, 10:00-11:00.

Stay Connected Banner

Now more than ever it's time for 4-H'ers to make the best better! While youth are at home and staying safe, we still want you to stay connected. Below are links to activities for youth and resources for volunteers. Check back frequently for additional links and program updates!

Announcements - January 13, 2021

As we begin the new year, the Ohio 4-H Planning Guide for In-Person Meetings & Events has been updated to reflect current guidance from Ohio State University and health officials. Beginning SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 2021, the following is in effect:

  • Hosting virtual meetings and events is preferred
  • If activities are critical/essential and are in-person, they must be education-focused
  • Group cannot be larger than 50 people, including adults, youth, presenters, etc.
    • This directive is dependent on local health department guidelines.
    • The group size may need to be reduced to 10 (or other amount), based on directives from your local health department.
  • Face masks are required inside and outside at all times
  • Potlucks and buffets are not permitted

Find details and updated guidelines at  Ohio 4-H Planning Guide for In-Person Meetings & Events

As part of an academic institution, we follow science and model what the CDC, Ohio Department of Health and other experts stress is important in addressing this virus. All 4-H volunteers are expected to follow these guidelines regarding 4-H meetings and events. Volunteers who are not in compliance will receive a first warning. A second incident disregarding our effort to protect the health, safety and well-being of members, families and communities will result in immediate termination of volunteer status.

OSU Extension offices will be open based on the current Ohio Public Health Advisory System. If a county is purple or approaching purple, OSU Extension offices will be closed and employees will be working virtually. If a county is red, OSU Extension offices will be staffed by appointment only. You will need to call in advance to schedule a time to go to the office. Please note there may be additional guidelines from county health departments.



Our office staff is on a rotating schedule and even if we are not in the office everyday we are still working remotely.

Please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Name Contact
Judie Gaerke
Office Associate
Amy Hoying
Office Associate
Morgan Meyer
Student Assistant
Matthew Schmerge
Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources


Doug Benson

COLUMBUS — A Shelby County Master Gardener has been honored for his volunteer work for the organization.

More than 300 Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteers gathered virtually on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 to honor peers, colleagues, and program supporters. The OSUE MGV Awards program was hosted by state MGV Program Director Pamela Bennett and Program Manager Jen Andon. The event is normally held during the face-to-face MGV State Conference but was moved to virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions.

OSUE MGV Awards are given to those who exemplify excellence in their work with the MGV program. Among the recipients was Shelby County Master Gardener Volunteer Doug Benson, who was recognized as the Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator: Volunteer. Benson was nominated and then selected by a vote of his peers from across the state. Benson had previously received the same honor in 2012.

“I feel very humbled to be honored by my peers,” Benson said. “I owe much credit to the volunteers in our group who make my work enjoyable and rewarding.”

Benson has been a Shelby County Master Gardener volunteer for 21 years and has served as the volunteer coordinator since 2010. As the unpaid coordinator, he assists the professional staff of Ohio State University Extension Shelby County in administering the local Master Gardener Volunteer program. He acts as a liaison between the state and local organizations, helps recruit and train new volunteers, schedules activities for the members, and organizes programs and services for the public.

The Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program provides intensive training in horticulture to interested Ohio residents, who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for Ohio residents through their local OSU Extension county office. Working with county Extension personnel, Master Gardener volunteers provide such educational services to their communities as: answering gardening questions from the public; conducting plant clinics; gardening activities with children, senior citizens, or disabled persons; beautifying the community; and developing community or demonstration gardens.

Shelby County Master Gardeners currently has 36 members living in Shelby and surrounding counties and provides service to residents in Shelby, Auglaize and Mercer counties. Residents wishing to know more about the MGV program or seeking horticultural information should contact the Shelby County Extension office, 810 Fair Road, Sidney OH 45365, or call 937-498-7239. Shelby County Master Gardeners can also be reached by email at

County News

  1. Ohio 4-H Releases Guide for Returning to In-Person Activities

    We’re happy to share we’ve received approval from Ohio State University leadership to resume in-person 4-H club meetings and activities starting immediately (as early as today, Tuesday, June 30, 2020). This is welcome news for our 3,039 Ohio 4-H clubs across the state.
  2. The USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

    The USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to fill the gap when children lose access to meals when schools are closed. Most often this occurs during summer vacation. However, during school closures related to the pandemic, meals are also being made available.
  3. OSU Extension Announces Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education

    OSU Extension Announces Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education

    OSU Extension is Open for Business  Learn with us virtually!