Dear Editor: The proposed reductions to the University System of Georgia to eliminate all 4-H programs, close five 4-H facilities including Rock Eagle and close over half of the Extension Offices statewide is unacceptable. 4-H is one of the few organizations that every child, regardless of background may participate in with no dues or fees. It offers children an opportunity to make friends from all over the state and nation at various competitions, conferences, workshops and forums. It provides a healthy means of social networking with adult supervision. It is known for grooming future leaders. Over the past 10 years, 92 percent of 4-H members have completed their high school graduation requirements. Not many groups can boast these statistics.
Nearly 10,000 young people are a part of the 4-H Project Achievement process in which 4-H members learn public speaking skills, learn to do research, prepare illustrated talks, keep a portfolio of their accomplishments and do an oral presentation. The skills learned in 4-H are used by individuals in the workforce every day.
Georgia 4-H operates five 4-H centers in Georgia. In the past year, over 37,000 young people participated in hands-on, experiential learning experiences at one of these centers. Nearly 10,000 young people participated in a summer camping activity.
Each year we get to re-experience camp for the first time through letters from kids on the scholarship program who would never be afforded this opportunity if a reasonably priced public camp were not available. The Georgia 4-H Centers served over 103,000 Georgia 4-H Club members and other citizens during the past year
The Rockdale County Cooperative Extension Service as a whole is just that, a service to the community. They collect soil samples to help citizens analyze their soils for amenities and answer questions on gardening, pest control, canning, food safety, and nutrition. They provide pesticide recertification, food-safe certification for restaurants, and child care certification for providers. They are one of the largest contributors to the local food bank and encourage community service for all participants in the program. They encourage their adult programs to participate with their youth programs and vice versa.
I cannot imagine not having 4-H in Georgia. I admit I have some strong feelings about the program. It allowed me to travel from coast to coast in the United States and spend six months in Europe on an exchange program. It gave me an opportunity to meet people who became my best friends through college and beyond. It gave me a job through college and afterward for a few years. It introduced me to my husband. And most of all it allowed me to watch my child to become a confident and poised young man who has no fear of speaking in front of hundreds of people, has friends from all over the state, and has had opportunities to learn about a multitude of topics. Are we going to allow 156,000 children and parents to miss this same opportunity?