June 2006
4-H Extension Corner

Is it possible to change the world? You will be pleased to know that our young people think that it is possible – and they think that they are the ones who can do it.

Everything we do in 4-H is based on university research. In 4-H, our young people are committed to making the world a better place. It just so happens that university research demonstrates the tremendous personal, economic and social benefits from pledging our hands "to larger service."

The research shows that young people who serve others benefit themselves and their communities. Young people who participate in service activities at least one hour a week are half as likely to engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking, problem drug use and vandalism. The research also shows that community service increases self-esteem and the sense of personal worth.

Kids who are involved in helping others learn to recognize how their actions affect society; they have more positive attitudes toward adults; and they learn empathy, to "walk in other people’s shoes." Research also shows that young people who serve others learn to build their problem-solving skills. As youth and as adults, studies show that they will be more politically involved and more involved in their community. They develop positive civic attitudes and an increased sense of social responsibility.

It is very easy to be self-centered in our society. That is why is always heartening to see the passion with which Alabama young people commit themselves to serving others. 4-H programs in every Alabama County and every Alabama community have wonderful examples of how they are learning to change the world.

I think the ways that Alabama 4-Hers help in their communities are powerful and original. In Tuscaloosa County they used "therapy dogs" to comfort kids and elderly people who had been made refugees by Hurricane Katrina. In Marion County, 4-Hers made "Hug Boxes" for local nursing homes. In Winston County, they created an outdoor classroom. They worked with Habitat for Humanity in Russell County. There are hundreds of examples.

Helen Keller, a great Alabamian, once said: "Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves."

So, what is it that YOU are doing to make the world a better place? As adults, we have to be the role models that our children follow. We can never be too kind, too generous, too forgiving, or too caring. By our kindness, our generosity and our service, we help society, but we also help ourselves. Make Alabama a better place to be by getting involved with your local 4-H clubs. Volunteer and give back to your community. Check out our web site at www.aces.edu/fourh/ for more information in your county.

We were excited to receive applications from forty-eight (48) youth throughout Alabama for the June 4-10 CWF (Citizenship-Washington Focus) to Washington DC.

From these applications, twenty-seven (27) delegates were selected to represent Alabama. To those youth who were selected, Congratulations! And to those who were not selected: we encourage you to continue your hard good work and re-apply next year. Due to the large number and the outstanding nature of the applications, the decision was extremely difficult! There was a tremendous increase in the number of applications this year as compared to previous years, and we were pleasantly surprised at the number and increase in older youth applicants.

If you supported a youth or Volunteer application, please contact your 4-Her and their families personally, and express to them our appreciation for their interest and application, whether or not they were selected.

2006 Alabama 4-H "Citizenship-Washington Focus" Delegates:

Ash, Matt - Escambia
Andrews, Allysa - Elmore
Black, Tia Alexis - Monroe
Boyd, Brandon - Macon
Bush, Trey - Butler
Clark, Kara - Houston
Donaldson, Whitney - Coffee
Dorough, Lisa - Baldwin
Ford, Janna - Shelby
Jenkins, Austin - Lawrence
Johnson, Erin - Jackson
Kloberdanz, Miranda - Lauderdale
Louallen, Andrew - Lawrence
Louallen, Christie - Lawrence
Manning, Marc - Autauga
Marable, Malcom - Randolph
Money, Suzanne - Crenshaw
Neeley, Amanda - DeKalb
Reynolds, Desnatie - Lawrence
Sullivan, Keegan - Walker
Teel, Chelsea - Pike
Townsend, Nic - Winston
Walker, Ethan - Winston
Weaver, Barry - Cherokee
Willoughby, Miranda - Fayette
Wimberly, Kaleb - Geneva
Woods, Natalie - Washington

4-H Volunteer Allyson Andrews (Elmore County) and Brandon Moore (Montgomery County) have been selected from among adult applicants as our Volunteer attendees.

They will assist Regional 4-H Agents Kenneth Gamble and Evelyn Rachell as official delegation chaperones.

If you supported this wonderful leadership opportunity for youth in your county, we appreciate you. Thanks for helping us renew interest in the Alabama CWF trip this year and hopefully in the years to come, as well.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful trip, as we build leaders for tomorrow.

Until next time, God Bless!

James Shropshire is the Alabama 4-H Regional Extension Agent for the Central Alabama Region. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..