September 2015
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: A New Era

  Dr. Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, presents Bibb County Commission Vice-Chairman James Kelly with the Alabama 4-H Crystal Clover.

Six counties get an additional 4-H agent.

Six more counties in Alabama now have a full-time 4-H staff member serving their youth.

Bibb, Dale, Fayette, Marion, Pike and Shelby counties have earned the Centennial Youth Initiative Designation from Alabama Cooperative Extension System in recognition of their 4-H teams’ efforts to transform and revitalize 4-H. The designation will provide a full-time Alabama 4-H Foundation agent in each of the six counties. The positions are funded by Alabama Extension and the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation.

Paul Brown, Alabama Extension’s associate director, said the distinction was earned because of excellence across the 4-H programming spectrum. Areas of excellence are:

Marion County 4-H’ers receive medallions from County Commission as Scott Goodwin, Winfield City middle school principal, and Ann West, Marion County Schools assistant superintendent, look on.  

Alabama Extension and the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation made formal presentations of this designation at a county commission meeting in each county. During each ceremony, the Alabama 4-H Centennial Youth Initiative Crystal Clover was presented to the county commission as were medallions of excellence to the county 4-H team members recognizing their accomplishment.

"The dedication the Extension professionals have shown when working with 4-H in these counties is very impressive," said Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Extension. "They have accomplished a lot and fully exemplify the standards of excellence set for this award."

During the Bibb County presentation, Matt Hartzell, Alabama Extension coordinator for that county, said he is extremely grateful for the collaboration, support and contributions leading to this important achievement.

"We appreciate our valued stakeholders in the county and the growing number of 4-H youth participants and volunteers who have made this achievement possible," Hartzell added.

"As a learn-by-doing program, 4-H is filling a void in the early 21st century by helping young people adopt skills and behaviors that will serve them and their fellow citizens well. Whether it’s learning about recycling, the outdoors, planting a small garden, raising chickens, retaining meaningful employment or living healthier lives, Bibb County youth have more opportunities to learn to improve their lives and those around them."

In Marion County, Lisa Murphy, Alabama Extension coordinator for the county, said, "This new era of 4-H youth development will create opportunities for future generations through contemporary learning experiences that emphasize character values, goal setting and personal exploration."

There are more than 1,600 youth involved in 4-H programming in Marion County.

Andrew Thompson is the new 4-H Foundation agent assigned to Dale County. He said there is no limit to the benefits 4-H is able to offer youth, and he is confident that every youth is capable of finding at least one area of interest within the diverse programming areas of 4-H.

At the Fayette County Commission meeting, Warren Griffith, Extension coordinator, said, "By diversifying our delivery methods, we’ve been able to reach more than 1,500 youth and almost every household in the county.

"4-H has a lasting impact on youth and I am excited about the possibilities this will bring to our county." 

There are more than 1,400 youth involved in 4-H programs in Dale County. Tommy Agee, Extension coordinator, said obtaining the CYI designation has better equipped his staff to go out and reach many more youth through 4-H and youth development.

"We have to remain relevant to youth and, if we do this, there will be a huge positive impact on the youth in Dale County."

In Shelby County, Extension Coordinator Ricky Colquitt said, "Our goal is to make a positive impact in the lives of young people, and this award will further enhance our ability to achieve that goal. Having a full-time 4-H Foundation agent will make a huge impact on the number of 4-H youth activities we can offer as well as the number of youth we can reach."

Shelby County currently has more than 1,200 youth involved in 4-H.

Earlier this year, Baldwin, Cherokee, Escambia, Etowah, Mobile and Washington counties were designated as CYI counties.

Brown said that Extension’s goal is to help every county earn the Centennial Youth Initiative Designation and to have a full-time 4-H Foundation agent working in each.

More than 120,000 young people participate in 4-H programs in Alabama.

Donna Reynolds is the communication editor of news and public affairs with ACES in Auburn.