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Johnson County
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Support from Johnson County Extension Education Foundation Funds Three 4-H Programs

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 Photo stand at county fair

This past year the 4-H Youth Development program has benefited greatly from the help of the Johnson County Extension Education Foundation (JCEEF) grant program.  There were three grants submitted and all three were funded. We are truly thankful for the support of our 4-H efforts in the county. Below is a summary of the three varied grants which were awarded.  

Volunteer background screenings
One principle of positive youth development is based on the benefit of a positive, sustained relationship of the young person with a caring adult. Youth gain the confidence, connections and caring they need to achieve their potential. In Kansas, nearly 1,000 individuals apply to become new 4-H volunteers each year, and the organization depends on thousands of volunteers to help fulfill the role of a caring adult. As the largest youth development organization in Kansas and across the nation, 4-H must lead by conducting the most effective strategies and practices in volunteer screening and selection. All youth deserve a safe and caring environment, and all parents and guardians should expect that when their children are entrusted to the 4-H program each child will be in a safe setting with caring adults.

Kansas 4-H continues to grow and improve. Strengthening its policy for volunteer registration fulfills an obligation to children, parents, volunteers and employees. Providing greater security for all people involved in Kansas 4-H is the right thing to do. It is also important that we protect the image and integrity of 4-H, K-State Research and Extension and Kansas State University.

Registered Volunteer is an adult or teen who has completed the full volunteer screening process — including application, reference check, interview, background check, and orientation — and has been appointed by the appropriate extension unit board. Registered volunteer status is required for adult or teen volunteers with authority to independently plan and conduct educational experiences for youth with other adults present or in a public setting. It is also required for a volunteer whose position places the individual in close, ongoing interaction with youth. Examples: community/organizational leader, project leader, activity leader, judging team coach, or camp counselor; Discovery Days, camp, exchange trip or overnight event chaperone; countywide project leader; or chauffeur (driver) for any 4-H activities, etc. (Kansas 4-H Youth Development, Volunteer Screening Policy and Procedures, 2014)

With the implementation of the new volunteer screening process for 4-H volunteers we were looking at alternatives to charging our potential new volunteers a fee for being a part of our Extension programs. Historically 4-H programs have not charged any fees for participating in our programs. This next 4-H year will be the first year without grant funds to support the background checks. We are pursuing avenues to continue providing background checks at no expense to the volunteer. Our targeted goal for the 2015-2016 4-H year is 40 new volunteers. A grant from JCEEF will pay for the criminal background checks of the volunteer applicants.

4-H photo stands

Sign thank Johnson County Extension Foundation

Two 4-H photo stands were funded to be utilized year-round for 4-H and Extension programs. The design of these stands will hold up to 160 photos per stand. We currently have over 270 youth enrolled in the photography project. The photography project in the 4-H program is one of the largest and fastest growing programs. The average number of entries at the county fair range from 250 – 400. Space was an issue in the 4-H building and having access to these displays benefited not only the photography department but freed up room for several other project areas to expand. The stands are also portable with the goal of utilizing them year round in varied ways for other Extension programs.

The goals of the photography project are:

  • to capture your friends, family and important events through the lens of a camera.
  • learn about basic and advanced film cameras, and/or digital cameras, and how to plan, compose, light and exhibit your photos.
  • grow skills by advancing into wide-angle and telephoto lenses, filters, light meters and computer enhancement.

Things youth learn/do in the project:

  • Level 1 Photography
    • Learn more about a camera and how it works
    • Learn basic photo composition
    • Organize a photo story
    • Learn to use simple automatic or digital camera
  • Level 2 Photography
    • Learn shutter speeds and f-stops
    • Use the Rule of Thirds
    • Learn to capture a point in time
  • Level 3 Photography
    • Use filters and special film
    • Learn how to use a light meter
    • Create still-life photos
    • Explain the differences between normal, wide angle, telephoto and zoom lenses

A grant from JCEEF paid for the purchase of the two photo stands.

4-H afterschool program
The goal was to establish the first 4-H afterschool middle school program in Johnson County and utilize the new SPIN (special interest) model to achieve this goal. The school chosen for this new project was Hocker Grove Middle School located in the Shawnee Mission School District.

4-H Afterschool is an Extension-enhanced program that:

  • offers youth a safe, healthy, caring and enriching environment
  • engages youth in long-term, structured learning in partnership with adults
  • addresses the interests of youth and their physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs

Over the course of two eight week SPIN clubs we will engage seventh and eighth graders in science, environmental and hands-on activities. We will offer a fall and a spring session. The group will meet once a week for a total of eight weeks for each session. 

This program is targeting the middle school aged youth of Hocker Grove. The school has 789 seventh and eighth graders attending the school as of 2013. The program will target 20 – 25 youth in the school.  53.6% of students are receiving a free or discounted lunch. This is the highest percentage in the Shawnee Mission Public School District.  Racial makeup is: White (57%), Hispanic (26.2%), and African American (8.7%). (http://www.schooldigger.com/)

Why 4-H afterschool programs?

  • Only 10.2 million K – 12 children (18 percent) participate in afterschool programs. An additional 19.4 million would participate if a quality program were available in their community. (source: Afterschool Alliance, 2014)
  • Eight in 10 Americans want all children and teens to have some type of organized activity or safe place to go after school. (source: Afterschool Alliance & Lake Research Partners, 2008)
  • The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. (source: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2003)
  • Teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and are more likely to drink, smoke and engage in sexual activity. (source: YMCA of the USA, 2001)

4-H is a program that creates opportunities for youth to develop life skills. 4-H Afterschool is one way to provide those opportunities. A grant from JCEEF will pay for the curriculum, books and activity supplies to support the program for 20 -25 kids per session.

These three grant programs will help to strengthen, build and ensure quality 4-H Youth Development programs in Johnson County for years to come.