IMPACT STORIES Public Relations & Information Committee

Abstracts from Successful Extension Youth Programs

4-H Impact Stories are an opportunity for you to showcase success in 4-H. Stories are used to market 4-H to legislators, policy makers and media. Submitted stories should include: program title/topic, objectives, target audience, a list of collaborators, if any, a description of the program and the results. It should be one page. Attachments are allowed.

Please feel free to contact the following Extension professionals about their ‘successes’.

Minnesota 4-H Helping Hands Project: When Polk County, Minnesota was devastated by the 1997 spring flood, a need arose to actively engage youth in the process of re-establishing their sense of security, structure, safety and ‘ownership’ of their lives. Parents needed a safe, positive environment for their children while they tended to repairing their flood damaged homes and businesses. Thus was born the ‘Minnesota 4-H Helping Hands Project’. Extension staff worked with local agencies to provide a summer day camp for over 150 children. The day camps were provided at no charge and utilized 110 teen volunteers from nine counties to provide six weeks of afternoon activities so children could re-decorate and re-establish their ‘claim to their room, their home and their life’.

A New 4-H “Kid On the Block”: When a 4-H member of the Albuquerque New Mexico 4-H Clubs started withdrawing from other children and activities because of his leukemia, his parents called their 4-H Agent for help. The Easter Seals program “Kids on the Block” seemed the perfect answer. The program utilizes life size puppets that dress and act like real children to teach children about disabilities in a non-threatening way. There is a puppet, named Diana, who has leukemia, but the local Easter Seals chapter didn’t have her. A Spaghetti Supper fundraiser soon took care of that problem, and Diana was soon “speaking” at the school. Following the presentation, the school was able to assist the family with communication, and help the 4-H’er realize other children couldn’t “catch” his cancer.

Arnot Winter Camping Trip: When Extension Staff in Tompkins County, New York, found out the youth participating in their 10th annual winter camping trip thought of the experience as purely social, they rose to the challenge of planning an educational experience the youth wouldn’t forget. The objectives of the program were to provide a time for the teens to realize their physical strengths as well as journey into their inner selves. 22 teens participated in an exciting teen event using physical and mental challenges, guest speakers, and open dialogue to address issues of anger, fairness, responsibility, leadership and communication and community service. Teen comments indicated they came away from the weekend with a new awareness of who they were when they arrived versus who they were when they left.

Players Entertainment Youth Center: What do kids in a rural town with no movie theater, bowling alley, mall or other place for kids to hang out, do in their spare time? A community forum identified the need for positive alternative activities for La Paz County, Arizona youth. Five 4-H’ers returned from a “Teen Biz” program and decided a teen center was what their goal would be. The youth developed a business plan and raised $17,400 cash plus $9000+ in-kind donations in four months. The Players Entertainment Youth Center opened featuring pool tables, foose ball, snack bar, TV room and all sorts of activities for the youth. Recently, the group received a grant for a building twice the size of the current center. The original five youth serve as founding board members. The center has provided training for other youth as they gain job skills through their work at the center.

4-H Careers in Government Day: Representative Michael Pappas, 12th District, New Jersey, organized 4-H leaders from Somerset County 4-H to det in motion 4-H Careers in government Day. 9th and 10th graders in the district applied to be a part of the program by submitting an essay on “What One Issue I Would Like to Discuss With My Congressman and Why.” Twelve winners were chosen to move on to the next step. The youth role played the budgeting process of the federal government. They assumed the persona of an assigned Senator or House member and “battled it out’ as they strived to balance a $1 million dollar budget. After the budget exercise, the group traveled to Washington D.C. where they toured the Capitol. Congressman Pappas liked the program so much he submitted it to the House Grass-Roots Success Story publication!

4-H Juvenile Diversion Program: This collaborative effort between the Brookings County, South Dakota, Extension Service, 3rd Judicial Circuit Court Services, East Central Mental Health Center and Volunteer Service Bank is taught for first-time juvenile offenders aged 10-16. Juveniles, designated by the court, participate in this 90 day 4-H program. The program is designed to allow juveniles to use their talents and abilities to develop alternative, positive use of their time and modify behaviors which resulted in their meeting with the judge and/or court services officers.

Youth at Risk 4-H Club: Rockdale County Georgia is home to the largest trailer park in the SE. The community is very transient and youth are often left unsupervised. Drug sales are rampant. In 1994, the Lakeview Estates Community Action Committee identified positive youth activities as a need. Rockdale County Extension Staff rose to the challenge of conducting an after school 4-H Club for fifth grade youth. The 4-H club works with the school system to identify youth and transport them, via school bus, to a meeting site in the community. The youth have learned skills to help them steer clear of crime and drugs which infest their neighborhood. Members are given the opportunity to feel good about themselves and their neighborhood by identifying service projects within their community. They have learned teamwork strategies to help them realize that they are not alone.

Forestry and Wildlife Camp: The Dougherty County Extension Service, the Georgia Forestry commission and the Department of Natural Resources have joined forces to present a Forestry and Wildlife Day Camp for youth. Students are taught to appreciate their forest resources and how it contributes to the economy and quality of life. Students participated in hunting, boating and fishing safety classes, learned tree identification and forest fire control and gained an appreciation for the variety of wildlife found in Georgia.

Community System wide Response: Extension Staff in Marion County Indiana participate on the community System wide Response (CSR)Team. The collaborative surveyed youth and parents to gage needs of the Perry Township community. As a result, the CSR team has conducted township-wide community meetings in the areas of violence and conflict, drug and alcohol education, parental involvement and discipline and mentoring. The group has also developed a community action plan, worked on seeking a change in a state curfew law, developed a drug free contract used at three high schools and developed a mentoring program. Dorothy Campbell, 4-H Program Director in Marion County

Tri County 4-H After School Program: With social and economic changes have come increased needs for after school child care programs which include constructive activities for children. Extension Educators in three rural counties in Illinois worked with the school system to develop a pilot, six week 4-H after school program. 100% of the parents surveyed after the program said they would like their children to participate again and rated the program as excellent or good. For more info contact Judy Hauser, Benton County 4-H Extension Educator

4-H/Special Olympics Livestock Show: Leaders from the Polk County Extension Service (Missouri) and the Special Olympics planned the First Annual 4-H/Special Olympics Livestock Show to teach youth with disabilities how to prepare and show livestock that included sheep, horses and hogs. It is believed to be the first such collaborative effort in the nation. The youth received training in preparing and grooming the animal of their choice. They then participated in a livestock show. Everyone received ribbons and a medal.

Leader Recognition Dinner Survey Form: Franklin County Missouri Extension Staff wanted to measure the impact 4-H had on the development of children, their families and the volunteers lives. At a Recognition Dinner, the staff distributed three question surveys to each volunteer. The respondents had some interesting things to say about the impact of 4-H on their lives.

4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Project: Since 1976, Essex County New Jersey 4-H and The Seeing Eye, Inc., have been involved in a partnership which brings youth and adults together to benefit blind people who use seeing eye dogs. The dogs are raised by 4-H members. Club members raise healthy, well-adjusted dogs that are ready to be trained for their future jobs of guiding sightless people. Youth gain skills in patience, understanding, communication and responsibility. To date, over 300 puppies have been raised by as many 4-H members and their families since 1976.