COVINGTON, Ga. - Residents at PruittHealth nursing home by the armory are enjoying a little extra holiday spirit thanks to Newton County homeschool 4-H members and Americorps.
Thirty-six children and adults made and hung winter decorations for two recreation rooms at the home in December as a 4-H service project.
The 4-H homeschool club was revived this year by Newton 4-H alum and homeschool student Deven Millerick, who is now serving as an Americorps service member.
“After a year in 4-H I found I loved the opportunities it gave me in my senior year, and I realized I wanted to give those opportunities to someone else. I might seriously consider a career in UGA Extension as a program assistant or youth development agent, so this was a really good way for me to try it out and see if I could do the job well,” Millerick said.
Newton County 4-H was awarded a half-time program assistant position for 2018-2019 through Georgia 4-H and Americorps.
For an investment of $2,000 by the Newton County Board of Commissioners, 4-H receives a minimum of 900 service hours from the Americorps service member over the year.
In turn, the service member receives a small, monthly living allowance, and a $3,000 educational grant at the end of the service year to be used for educational expenses such as tuition and fees.
“Newton County 4-H and our schools have already benefitted from having an Americorps member because our staff is able to serve schools this year who need 3 clubs to meet at the same time, which is becoming a more frequent request as schools grow and schedules tighten,” County Extension Coordinator Ted Wynne said.
Millerick is serving with the 4-H Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) BB team, coaching a new LifeSmarts team, and leading the 4-H homeschool club this year.
She also recently certified as a 4-H Poultry Judging coach and plans to become a certified BB coach. She was a member of the Newton County 4-H Poultry Judging team that placed at state last year.
Homeschool youth have always been able to participate in 4-H clubs and activities, but younger members often find the community-wide County 4-H Council to be a little intimidating.
Millerick organized older homeschool 4-H teen leaders to help lead a homeschool club during the day for children in 3rd to 6th grades. Younger and older youth may also attend if they are mature enough to participate.
“It provides leadership opportunities for homeschool students who don’t have in school programs, and allows the teen leaders to teach and lead,” Millerick said.
“In October one teen leader taught about algorithms and mapping as part of the National Youth Science Day experiment, and in December she did a cookie lesson related to her 4-H project area,” she said.
The club plans to extend a lesson they received at the Covington Fire Department by taking part in a fire drill experience in the coming year, as well as continuing to seek learning and service opportunities.
“Every month we’ve had new kids come in, so I think having 36 people in December is a good sign for 2019,” said Millerick.
The club meets on the third Friday each month from 10-11:30 a.m., most often at the 4-H office. Families can get more information by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’ve learned just how much patience it requires and how much effort goes into organizing an event. It’s nice to be on this side of the organizing and planning rather than just being there to enjoy it, but it’s been an eye-opening experience,” Millerick said.
Millerick volunteered for two months before beginning as an Americorps member. She summed her experience up: “So far, 5 months into it, I love it!”
The AmeriCorps State program, founded in 1993, supports a wide range of local service programs that address critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.
It a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Funding for the State program is administered by the Georgia Commission on Service and Volunteerism.