4-H Youth Conversation draws community leaders

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

New ideas are dawning among local 4-H youth and their leaders as the national organization celebrates its Centennial Anniversary. To put legs under some of those ideas, local 4-H leaders held a "Conversation on Youth Development" with representatives of the local community recently at the Kenai Alternative School.

The program is part of the national 4-H Centennial Celebration. The goal of these Conversations is to involve more than 100,000 youths and adults in over 3,600 communities across the nation in identifying the critical youth development strategies for the 21st Century. There are approximately 200 4-H members that belong to the 10 clubs on the Kenai Peninsula. "We wanted to find out what people thought the most important things were that we could do to provide opportunities for our community and our youth, so we brought together people from the business community, political leaders, and lots of young people and we brainstormed and came up with a list of pretty good ideas," said Nancy Veal, a 4-H leader with the Cooperative Extension Service.

As a result of the meeting, Brett Caswell, offered to set up a web site that will link together all the youth organizations that serve the local community so that people will be aware of the activities, jobs, and youth opportunities in the area. Other ideas that received a high priority rating from the group, included transportation for young people to community and youth activities, utilizing the energy of youth by expanding programs such as Caring For The Kenai, and the Youth Restoration Corps, and an indoor recreation facility for winter after school activities.

Katie Schollenberg, 4-H member, challenged those present to each become active individually with The Power of Youth Pledge Campaign, one of the gifts 4-H is giving to the nation in honor of its 100th anniversary. "Youth are the future, and we can do anything, so we are challenging kids and adults alike to pledge their time to a civics volunteer project like those we discussed here tonight," said Schollenberg. The challenge is for each person to make a pledge, describing what they will do to make their community, country, or world, a better place. According to Schollenberg the pledge can be as simple as sanding an elderly neighbor's walkway, or as big as organizing a statewide project to collect food for the hungry.

A national celebration of the Youth Pledge program is planned for February 2002 in Washington D.C. Pledge cards are available locally by contacting Nancy Veal at 262-5824, or can be made electronically at www.4hcentennial.org.

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