Agriculture

4-H searches for locals to serve on sponsoring committee

Looking for business leaders and others who are well connected in the community and motivated to provide educational, leadership opportunities to youth.
San Benito County residents enjoying the 4-H Pancake Breakfast. Photo provided by Devii Rao.
San Benito County residents enjoying the 4-H Pancake Breakfast. Photo provided by Devii Rao.

This article was contributed by Devii Rao with the University of California Cooperative Extension.

We are looking for a few local people to serve on a sponsoring committee to keep 4-H active and strong in San Benito County. The sponsoring committee will organize events such as letter writing campaigns, barn dances, dinners, silent and live auctions, fireworks booths, having 4-H youth sell treats at the fair, or your other creative ideas! Sponsoring committee members are not required to have any affiliation with 4-H. We are looking for business leaders and other people who are well connected in the community and who are motivated to provide educational and leadership opportunities to our youth.

For those of you who are not familiar with 4-H, our mission is to engage youth in reaching their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. Our vision is for a world in which youth and adults learn, grow, and work together as catalysts for positive change. The program is open to all children from ages five to 19. 4-H youth belong to community clubs where they participate in projects such as raising a farm animal, outdoor adventure, jewelry making, crop & fields, leadership & community service, arts & crafts, sewing, shooting sports, or gardening. The younger children, ages five to nine, can participate in the clover buds project. There’s something for everyone in 4-H! 4-H youth attend 4-H camps and conferences and participate in a wide variety of events, where they gain leadership skills while providing community service. If you’d like to learn more about 4-H opportunities in San Benito County, check out our website: http://cesanbenito.ucanr.edu/4-H_Program/ or contact Julie Katawicz at jkatawicz@ucanr.edu.

You may be wondering why we need to raise funds for 4-H. Here’s the scoop…The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is the umbrella organization that houses UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE), including the 4-H program. The state of California is one of the primary sources of annual funding to UC ANR. Between 2000-2019, state funding to UC ANR increased 3%. However, when adjusted for inflation, that’s a 42% reduction in funding in 2019, compared to 2000. Another way to look at the numbers is that in 1990 we had 202 UC Cooperative Extension specialists on UC campuses and 336 county-based advisors working to address the research and education needs of farmers and ranchers. By 2019 we had lost 83 specialists and 153 advisors. In addition to already having lost many UCCE specialists and advisors, there is now a threat to 4-H across the state, including in San Benito County. Based on the current state budget situation, UC ANR is still able to contribute some funding to the 4-H program, but cannot cover the full cost. What this means locally is that there is a shortfall of $3,510 for our 4-H representative’s salary for FY2020/2021. In order to have a 4-H program in San Benito County we are required to have a 4-H rep. The 4-H rep is the glue that holds 4-H together. The 4-H rep organizes educational and leadership events for youth, teaches leadership classes for youth and adult leaders, communicates with 4-H families, sends out a monthly 4-H newsletter, and helps with fundraising.

We are doing a variety of activities to raise funds for the 4-H rep position, which will ensure that 4-H continues to be one of the most vibrant youth programs in San Benito County. Here are some things we have done to raise funds:

  • We have increased enrollment fees for youth and adult volunteers. (However, we are trying to keep fees low enough that all families can participate. Scholarships are available for families who can’t afford the enrollment fee.)
  • We have organized multiple outreach activities to increase the number of youth and adults enrolled (which helps increase funds).
  • We are sharing all the benefits of 4-H with our County Board of Supervisors and requesting their financial support.
  • And here’s where you come in! We are creating a sponsoring committee which will develop exciting and successful fundraising campaigns!

Our fundraising goals are three-fold:

1) Short-term goal: We are actively seeking funds from multiple sources to cover the $3,510 gap in the 4-H rep’s salary so we can maintain the 4-H program through FY 2020-21.
2) Medium-term goal: Raise $10,000 through our sponsoring committee to create an endowment to help support the 4-H Representative position. Once we get beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and people can safely meet in large groups, the first fundraising activity of the sponsoring committee will be to coordinate a barn dance. This will be a fun and uplifting event for the entire family. We will serve dinner and hire a live band or DJ, so there will be plenty of dancing!
3) Long-term goal: Increase the endowment from $10,000 to $100,000 so that the interest earned will eventually pay for a substantial portion of the the 4-H rep’s position in perpetuity, allowing us to continue giving our local youth the education and life skills they need to be successful.

If you are interested in sharing your talents and your time for the benefit of our county’s youth, please contact Devii Rao at drorao@ucanr.edu.

Devii Rao

I am the UC Cooperative Extension Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor serving San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties.