Chatham County 4-H’s youth and family programs focus on skill development

Posted 9/13/19

Editor’s note: As part of the News + Record’s commitment to the community, we’re partnering with the United Way of Chatham County to help provide insight into the work of the agencies the program helps fund with a series of local agency profiles. First up: Chatham County 4-H.

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Chatham County 4-H’s youth and family programs focus on skill development

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Editor’s note: As part of the News + Record’s commitment to the community, we’re partnering with the United Way of Chatham County to help provide insight into the work of the agencies the program helps fund with a series of local agency profiles; information is provided by the agencies in conjunction with the United Way. The United Way relies on donations from individuals and businesses to meet the needs of its member agencies. Please consider a generous gift.

Agency: Chatham County 4-H

Focus Area(s): Nurturing Youth and Families (Education) and Strengthening the Community (Health)

Name of United Way Supported Program(s): Chatham County 4-H Camping, Chatham County 4-H Club Programming Leadership Training, Chatham County 4-H Healthy Lifestyles, Chatham County 4-H School Enrichment.

How does the program make a difference in the community?

• Chatham County 4-H Camping — All of our camping programs focus on the core belief that life skill development is essential in our young people in order to ensure that they become contributing, competent citizens that give back to their community. Each camping opportunity has numerous hands-on activities that engage youth in experiential learning opportunities that can enhance their overall well-being (both from an academic and social perspective).

• Club Programming Leadership Training — The club program is the backbone of the traditional 4-H program. Our clubs give volunteers the opportunity to work closely with Chatham County youth to promote positive life skill development that will enable them to grow into positive, contributing members of society in the future. Without the invaluable work of trained volunteers, the Chatham County 4-H program simply would not function properly. The Club and Leadership Program gives Chatham County 4-H the most hands-on opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child, enabling a youth to realize his/her full potential as a valued and trusted leader. Part of the funding will be utilized for the Chatham County Livestock Show. The Chatham County Livestock Show allows youth participants the opportunity to show off their animal husbandry skills and to demonstrate the amount of responsibility, dedication, and hard work it takes to get their animals in proper show form.

• Chatham County 4-H Healthy Lifestyles — The Jr. C.H.E.F. program teaches youth the importance of proper nutrition, kitchen safety, proper food preparation, and how to make simple, healthy snacks and meals at home. Promoting healthy lifestyles, chronic disease prevention, and proper weight are all goals of North Carolina 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), and North Carolina Cooperative Extension. This program works to educate youth on the importance of all three goals and gives them hands-on, experiential learning lessons on how to achieve each goal.

• Chatham County 4-H School Enrichment — Our school enrichment program allows 4-H to use our research-based curriculum to teach not only concepts related to science (e.g., electricity, life cycles, soil properties, seed germination, and energy efficiency), but to reinforce positive life skill development through hands-on learning activities. All activities in our curriculum have hands-on projects for each lesson that display one or more of the following pertinent life skills: teamwork, record keeping, cooperation, conflict management, public speaking, etc. All curricula that we offer within the classroom setting have been approved by the NC Department of Public Instruction. In addition to providing schools with research-based curriculum, Chatham County 4-H offers a school-based youth incentive programs. Our youth incentive contract completion program gives students the opportunity to identify a goal (in conjugation with their respective teacher) they would like to achieve each nine-week grading period and rewards them for their hard work and dedication if the goal is successfully met.

Why is this program essential to Chatham County?

Through the N.C. State Extension 2017-2018 needs assessment process, which incorporates a multi-method approach to collecting county trend data and stakeholder input, several priorities were identified that are addressed by the Chatham County 4-H programs supported by United Way funding. The following priorities were identified:

• Camps and conferences that provide recreational and educational opportunities for youth, including day and overnight camps, youth summits, 4-H council, and leadership forums.

• Strengthening youth workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and business development skills.

• Helping youth develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills.

• Increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) literacy.

• Programs to reduce obesity in youth through promotion of healthy food choices, healthy food preparation, and physical activity.

• After-school and in-school programs that provide 4-H activities during and after school hours using hands-on activities and 4-H curriculum.

• 4-H clubs that follow a planned program and offer multiple learning opportunities for youth.

• Plant and animal science program that engage young people in agricultural science, topics such as veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals, and forestry.

How will Chatham County 4-H use United Way donor dollars?

• Chatham County 4-H Camping — The camping program is one of the largest and most popular programs that Chatham County 4-H offers. The funds received will support all of our 4-H summer camping programs during fiscal year 2019-20. Our summer camps include two Science Discovery camps that introduce youth to enhanced STEM learning opportunities, one week of overnight camp at Betsy-Jeff Penn, and two weeks of day camp at Northwest District Park in Silk Hope. For our Science Discovery camps, funds were used to provide transportation, snacks, and partial admission fees for youth participants. In addition, up to four scholarships were offered at $50 each for those families requiring additional financial assistance. For our overnight/residential camp, funds were used to reduce the cost of registration for all participants, and to provide need-based scholarships for families requiring additional financial assistance. In addition, funds were used to provide transportation to/from camp via a charter bus. For our two-week, 4-H Adventure Day Camp, funds will be used to provide scholarships to families requiring financial assistance and to help provide supplies necessary for crafts, educational lessons, food, and equipment. In addition, we will partner with Chatham County Parks & Recreation to offer 4-H curriculum and learning opportunities during their regular six weeks of day camp over the remainder of the summer. As a result, we will more than double the number of youth we are able to reach in the community and still manage to keep our total costs low.

• Club Programming Leadership Training — Funds received from United Way will go to support the Club and Leadership Program in a variety of ways. It will offset the cost of curriculum, club supplies, and other items necessary for our 4-H Clubs to successfully operate. In addition, funds will be used to offset cost, or in some cases provide full scholarships, for our teens to attend District Teen Retreat, 4-H Congress, NC 4-H Citizenship Focus, District Activity Day, etc., and for our volunteers to attend a variety of highly educational youth development trainings. Lastly, funds received will be used to provide awards (medals, trophies, etc.) for youth participants and to secure a properly trained judge that understands not only animal conformation, but also youth development, for our Chatham County Livestock Show.

• Chatham County 4-H Healthy Lifestyles — Funds received from United Way will allow us to reduce the registration fee for all participants to a more affordable price, and to provide full scholarship for youth requiring additional financial assistance. In addition, it will go toward purchasing new kitchen tools and equipment, as well as high quality fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. for youth to prepare during class.

• Chatham County 4-H School Enrichment — Funds received from United Way will be used to supplement each school enrichment program and ensure that teachers will have no cost associated with the listed programs:

• The Youth Incentive program will use funds to provide food, drinks, plates and napkins to each of the participating schools for three of the four nine-week grading periods.

• The Embryology program will use funds to purchase new candlers, thermometers, brooder boxes, chick/duckling feed, and heat lamps will be bought for participating teachers. Over the past year, the number of teachers participating in the program has increased, therefore, it has been necessary to purchase new supplies, as well as replace supplies that are no longer functioning properly.

• The Butterfly program will use funds to purchase butterfly nets, curriculum, live larvae, and other supplies necessary to meet requested demands and continue this program for another successful year.

Please share a story about a Chatham resident this program helped and the impact it made...

Each of the Chatham County 4-H programs mentioned above have had a positive impact on the youth in our community. Through funds received from United Way, Chatham County 4-H has been able to provide programming to youth from all socio-economic backgrounds, allowing us to reach a larger number of youth in Chatham County. In 2018, 4,461 Chatham County youth were involved in 4-H youth development programming. Based on population estimates for 2018, as published in the Chatham County NC Quick Facts (U.S. Census Bureau), greater than one in three youth between the ages of five and eighteen participated in Chatham County 4-H programming. Without the assistance of United Way funds, the extent of our outreach would be much less.


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