Grant will help Lawrence County 4-H’ers build leadership skills

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SALEM, Ohio – The Lawrence County 4-H Rural Teen Leadership Initiative got a boost this year with a $2,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
The funds helped cover the cost of several leadership activities for Lawrence County’s 4-H youth, including Penn State Achievement Days, Regional 4-H Youth Weekend, camp counselor training, summer 4-H camps and Capital Days. A small portion of the money also goes toward adult volunteer training.
The grant gives the county the chance “to reduce the cost for kids to attend these events,” said Bryan Dickinson, extension educator, 4-H and youth development.
Regular winner. The Lawrence County 4-H program is a regular recipient of the Agriculture and Rural Youth grant, which the department awards annually to Pennsylvania youth organizations that promote the development of agriculture and rural community leadership.
This is the seventh time in the past eight years the county has received the grant and Dickinson said it’s likely the county will apply next year as well.
The money has traditionally gone toward 4-H leadership activities.
“Leadership development is one of the core values and one of our missions here,” Dickinson said.
One of the activities Lawrence County youth can participate in through the grant is Penn State Achievement Days. This event gives 4-H’ers the chance to demonstrate their project skills through various competitions such as judging, quiz bowls, public speaking and demonstrations.
Local concerns. Another activity is Regional 4-H Youth Weekend, which allows 4-H’ers to study local issues like water quality, wildlife and natural resources and money management. The teens are also involved in planning and carrying out the event.
Camp counselor training allows youth to be trained as leaders for younger children at 4-H camp, while summer camps give 4-H’ers the opportunity to learn outdoor skills like archery and boating.
Capital Days increase citizenship and leadership skills. Teens meet with local representatives, visit government agencies, participate in mock lobbying and lead small committees.
The final leadership activity that receives part of the grant funding is adult volunteer training, which includes materials, videos, group discussions and brainstorming.
Teen leadership activities are important in Lawrence County for several reasons, according to Dickinson.
Besides developing leadership skills, the activities strengthen the county’s 4-H clubs and give youth the desire to stay with the 4-H program. The community benefits by having wholesome and productive activities for the youth.
Future. Dickinson said building strong leadership skills in rural teens will translate into strong leadership for future agricultural and rural communities.
About 160 people will be involved with the leadership activities funded partly through the grant. Those individuals will then have an indirect impact on the county’s 1,300 4-H’ers and the 2,400 youth served by Lawrence County 4-H.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture doled out $110,000 in Agriculture and Rural Youth grants this year. Since 1992, the department has awarded 372 grants totaling more than $1.1 million to FFA, agricultural extension and agricultural educational organizations.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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