It May Look a Little Different, But Oklahoma's 4-H Program Still the Same Club You Know and LoveMon, 30 Jul 2018 11:51:25 CDT
During the recent Oklahoma 4-H Roundup at Oklahoma State University, over $100,000 in scholarship awards were presented to approximately 90 of the state’s highest achieving 4-H student members. This event allows the donors and supporters of 4-H program a chance to mingle with these students and allows them the opportunity to showcase their various successes made throughout the year. Blayne Arthur, executive director of the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation was there and spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the opportunity the program offers its members and communities statewide. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Roundup is a great time. (The students) really appreciate the opportunity to kind of celebrate each other’s successes,” Arthur said. “We have kids running for our council. Kids that are newly elected to the Ambassador team… and so it’s really a great time. It’s lots of hard work thought the year, but it’s great to have those kids to come out and support each other’s achievements.”
While individual success is certainly recognized at this event, Arthur says the real winners are the communities that support these deserving high-achievers. She explains that the 4-H program is rooted in community service and that is something she says is instilled into students from the very beginning. As a result, the communities that support their local members benefit directly from their prosperity in the organization as members return year after year with service projects and a desire to better the people and the lives around them.
“That community service component is such a key part of our 4-H program… whether you’re talking about our younger kids, the Clover Buds, or our older high school students. Community service is just engrained into their project work from the get go,” Arthur said. “Which is wonderful for us in Oklahoma because then we have these young adults who become citizens of our state and they become community servants.”
Arthur reports that the 4-H Foundation has had a lot of positive success in the last few years. Currently, the Foundation’s coffers total roughly $10 million. In fact, this year, the Foundation received a special $1 million gift that has allowed funding for a scholarship program that assists students pursuing a medical degree through the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. That gift was a welcomed surprise, but Arthur says she is also always amazed by the dedication of the Foundation’s loyal industry partners that have built and maintained a relationship with the 4-H program over the years.
“When they support the program, they see that long-term benefit for the state of Oklahoma, but also for their companies,” she remarked. “I think they see the true value of the program because of the youth development.”
This support is more important than ever as budget constraints force the program to do more with less. But Arthur says the Extension Service has really began to pivot its position to address the changing times and the changing audience they serve.
“I think the 4-H program will continue to look a little bit different than the traditional program that some of us are familiar with,” she said. “But, it all come back to the pillars we’ve focused on for so many years. It’s just molding itself to fit a different audience.”
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