January 16, 2019
Happy New Year and 4-H Program Rally!
Thanks to those who attended the 4-H Program Rally in Wichita on November 29-30, 2018. Your participation and engagement during our time together as Extension professionals is greatly appreciated.
4-H Youth Development in Kansas is a vibrant part of our state’s history and together it will be a vibrant part of our today and tomorrow. Helping youth grow up is our primary objective. Assisting parents, volunteers, and other community members in sustaining a supportive and challenging 4-H learning environment in clubs, local or state activities is key to our programmatic success. Growing youth in their abilities to understand themselves, discover their passions, and respond to opportunities to learn and serve are key building blocks to growing true leaders in our communities across Kansas.
I want to say thank you to the Kansas 4-H Foundation for their active and dynamic partnership with Kansas 4-H Youth Development. To name a few, for presenting the changes and innovation within their organization as a private fundraising partner, for their commitment to providing financial support through 912 program fee waivers last year, support of National 4-H Council Pathways support for three Kansas 4-H professionals, Science of Agriculture Advocacy, camp and multiple 4-H events at Rock Springs, support for the Expansion Grant, and for their sponsorship of curriculum materials that were handed out to attendees at 4-H Program Rally. This list is just a sample but it illustrates the dynamic ways in which the Kansas 4-H Foundation is helping Kansas 4-H Youth Development succeed across the state. Together we are growing a positive 4-H future. The feedback from those in attendance at 4-H Program Rally affirmed excitement and optimism about present and future opportunities to help local unit 4-H programs grow and to help build compelling learning pathways for Kansas youth!
As we discussed together during 4-H Program Rally, curriculum, volunteer development, financial development, effective social media engagement, and local school & university partnerships are key components in building successful 4-H youth development programs locally and across the state.
I am happy to report that, in light of all the changes this past program year, the Kansas 4-H community club and individual membership (including Cloverbuds) for 2018 held steady at 17,347 compared to 2017 at 17,850 (or a 2.8% decrease in enrollment from the previous year). In 2017-18, 71,909 youth were participants with Kansas 4-H & Extension Youth Development programming in all delivery modes compared to 74,837 participants in the previous programming year (a 3.9% decrease).
I am excited about the new opportunities emerging in the coming year related to Food Science, Science of Agriculture, Youth Emergency Management certification, Military youth engagement, new audience work, shooting sports education, Ag Innovator Grant in Dickinson County, Science Matters Grant in Johnson County, animal science efforts, and reintroducing specialty camps. Partnership will be strategic as well - strengthening our University and Kansas Fairs & Festivals partnerships.
One question raised at Rally that I want to acknowledge is “What efforts are you developing to engage 4-H alumni?” This question was partially in response to the successful 3rd place finish during the 2018 “Raise Your Hand” social media campaign. I am currently in discussions with the Kansas 4-H Foundation and K-State to provide a menu of options for alumni (especially recent ones) to participate from the state level events and then work with extension professionals on local options. There was commented a desire for more training opportunities for professionals and volunteers with tangible tools to help grow healthy 4-H programs locally. With that, State 4-H staff are looking to provide increased opportunities for ongoing training this coming year. I want to thank many of you for your responsiveness and great ideas shared for local trainings that benefit both volunteers and professionals alike!
Lastly, the state 4-H Office is in the midst of a substantive effort to improving risk management efforts within all delivery modes including camp and events, volunteer development and screening processes, and 4-H Policy revisions. Extension Administration has affirmed this examination process in order to provide the highest quality experience for 4-H Youth. We anticipate revisions to be put forward to the broader KSRE system by early summer. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
I intend to utilize this forum in the tip sheet to continue to look at questions raised during 4-H Program Rally in an effort to communicate with you all the efforts of Kansas 4-H Youth Development to help grow local 4-H programs and invite youth to learning for life! Please let me know if there are needs, opportunities, or challenges that we can assist with. My door is open and the phone is on!
2019 promises to be another year of change, engagement, and opportunity. I am so glad to join you in this exciting professional journey through Kansas 4-H. Go make the best better!