A former Fulton County OSU Extension educator is returning to her roots this week, to the position she calls her passion.
Melissa Rupp will reclaim her job as the Extension’s Family Consumer Sciences educator, which she left 20 years ago to concentrate on her burgeoning family and to continue her education. She will replace Melissa Welker, who moved on to other opportunities.
Rupp’s duties will include educating and supporting family and community needs in such areas as parenting, money management, food preparation, and workforce development. She will develop and implement classes, workshops, and individual counseling or refer people to existing programs that may help. She’ll also collaborate within the community for initiatives that support families.
“It will be based on the community’s desires,” Rupp said of the position. “It could be any form of education: classroom, one-on-one or a community setting – anything that would support a family and keep a family functioning in today’s society. It’s a source of information to improve family life and family living.”
She understands that people often gather such information from social media sources, but said online sources aren’t always factual or reliable. “It’s that point-of-need issue, and where do you get that? Social media, but it could be wrong.”
The Extension conducts its own research to disseminate to the community, she said, and consumer science is no exception.
“We are purely education, and it’s open to anyone who has a need for family or consumer science education,” Rupp said. “There’s no age limit, there’s no gender, there’s no family component. It’s just life.”
The Wauseon native was raised in Alvordton in Williams County. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Family Consumer Sciences, with an emphasis on resource management, from Goshen College in Indiana, and a Master’s degree in Education from Defiance College.
From 1991-96, Rupp was an Extension consumer science associate educator in Fulton and Henry counties. She left the position as her family began to flourish, and also to pursued the Master’s degree.
“I decided to concentrate on my marriage and family,” she said.
She returned to her career in 2000, accepting a position with the Family and Children First Council in Williams County. Ten years later, Rupp took a job as Director of Grants Development and Administration with Northwest State Community College in Archbold, where she has remained until deciding to rejoin the Extension.
“It’s what I love. It’s where my passion lies,” she said of her return. “Without strong family units you don’t create strong communities. And in strong communities, everyone thrives.”
Rupp said she wants to reintroduce to people common skills that were once passed down in the home. She believes those skills are being lost as society moves and changes with technology.
“We became more focused on the easy way of doing things,” she said. “Skills and home living and those arts were taught in the home from generation to generation. And now there’s a skill gap, because we’ve moved away from those domestic skills that were commonplace. They’re not being learned the way they were. That transition of knowledge doesn’t happen.”
She applauds schools that have retained consumer science classes, but conceded, “Sometimes in life, you don’t need something until you need it. I (also) want to teach knowledge that might not have existed in the past.”
She cited as an example the burden of talking to children about the current opioid crisis ravaging Fulton County and other communities. “There are issues families face that they didn’t have to face 15 or 20 years ago. We can help address those issues with research-based information,” she said.
County Extension Director Eric Richer said good candidates for the position were plentiful, but Rupp was selected for a skill set that will complement the work the Extension already does.
“She is very familiar with all of northwest Ohio but certainly Fulton County. We certainly value her working knowledge of OSU Extension from years ago,” he said.
Richer said the fact that she has received the opportunity in her mid-career “is awesome for the Fulton County community. I believe it’s a win-win. Everybody in the office is excited to have her back in the OSU Extension family.”
Rupp will formally take the position today (Tuesday), just in time to participate in Women’s Day’s at the Veteran’s Pavilion at the Fulton County Fair the following day and meet and greet members of the community.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.