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Click the image below to view updates added by Extension 4-H staff, 4-H youth members and leaders & proud family and friends. Use the hashtag #DE4H for consideration as part of our Storify page!
July 11, 2014 in mainfeature
The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension 4-H Program recently hosted 14 students from Sicily, the largest of the Italian islands, as part of the 2014 Youth Ambassadors Program.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State through its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
The participants spent time in the United States from May 17 through June 7 and did everything from exploring Washington, D.C., to spending a night in New York’s American Museum of Natural History.
They also learned how to solve problems facing their communities, important information that they can take with them as they return home.
“They’ve had a pretty broad experience with the idea that they go back to Sicily and maybe do some projects in their community that engage people,” said Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader. “We’ve been trying to teach them how to identify who the stakeholders are in their community and then how to proceed with a project, looking at what steps they need to take so that it’s successful. I think learning those skills will really help them in the end because you could have a great idea for a project but if you don’t know how to implement it, it won’t get off the ground.”
Many of the students identified pollution as a major problem in their community and so they spent time at the Peninsula Composting Group facility learning about commercial composting. They also took an ecological kayak tour at Sedge Island in New Jersey and helped plant beach grass to replenish the dunes.
In addition, the students learned about working in groups, doing team-building exercises to learn about each other’s personalities and how they meshed when trying to solve a problem.
“They’ve gone through what we call the True Colors personality IQ so they all understand their particular styles,” said Manno. “We always do that with kids and it’s really an exercise in diversity. They learn ‘why is this person this way and why am I that way,’ and it helps them understand that some people are very organized and some are just completely different. So they’ve done a lot of skill building and team building exercises.”
Chiara Maggiore, one of the students participating in the program, said that the program “is really teaching us something about ourselves in particular; about our capacities and how we can do something better for our community. I like the fact that we are having so much fun. We are enjoying the trip and we are experiencing things for the first time. At the same time, we came from different parts of the same region and we have such different personalities but we’ve come together and created a great group.”
Gaetano Pardo, another student on the trip, said that he had visited Australia before and was expecting America to be similar to that country. “I was expecting it to be like Australia but it’s not,” said Pardo. “There are a lot of trees and the houses are very different.”
Extending across states
The students spent a large portion of their time in the United States in New Jersey, staying with 4-H host families in the state and being led by Rutgers University Cooperative Extension. Manno pointed out that Alayne Torretta, a New Jersey 4-H agent, was great to work with and that this program — as well as the last program that had students from Colombia and Ecuador — shows the possibilities of Extension partnerships among different states.
“Last fall Delaware 4-H teamed with Maryland’s Cecil County 4-H. This is a great example of cross-state partnerships in Extension. When I first got this grant, I knew we couldn’t do two cycles a year, so I put out a call to my colleagues in the northeast region and I got a lot of interest from that. And I’ve known Alayne Toretta a long time and it’s worked out very well so far,” said Manno.
Manno added that Delaware 4-H is waiting to hear from the State Department about round two of the program. “Teens from almost anywhere in the world may be coming to Delaware and Maryland soon,” he said. “Wherever they come from, they’re guaranteed a great experience in learning about democracy and problem solving.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Danielle Quigley
This article can also be viewed on UDaily.
July 10, 2014 in mainfeature
During its inaugural year, Delaware’s 4-H Palindrome Robotics Club had a strong showing, competing in a regional championship and finishing with a top 40 ranking in the Mid-Atlantic.
Club members competed in three competitions, making it all the way to the Mid-Atlantic For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Region Championships at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Palindrome Robotics finished the season ranked 36th out of 110 teams in the region, which is no small feat for a team that started in August 2013.
The club made it to the regional championship by competing in two district events, finishing as a semifinalist at the first district event and as a quarterfinalist in the second event.
At the competitions, the club competed with its robot, named Aibohphobia — meaning the fear of palindrome — in a group competition that saw alliances of three teams working together with their robots to compete in a game created by FIRST called “Aerial Assist.”
The game was played by two competing “alliances” of three robots, each of which had to work together to score as many goals as possible in a two minute and 30 second time period. One goal was suspended seven feet high, with two lower goals located on each corner of the field. Teams were awarded 10 points for the high goals and one point for the low goals. Robots were allowed to play the role of goalies in order to keep the balls out of their goals.
There was also a five-foot truss in the middle of the field that teams scored points for getting the ball over, and teams were awarded bonuses if their robots assisted their alliance members in the scoring of goals and moving the ball together through the field’s three zones.
The balls that the alliances had to move were exercise balls approximately two feet in diameter, and one human player stood on the side to load the balls onto their robots.
The first 10 seconds of each match was an “autonomous period” in which the robots operated independently of their drivers and each robot was allowed to begin with a ball and have a chance to score a goal. For the rest of the match, drivers remotely controlled the robots from behind a protective wall, known as an “alliance station.”
Santesh Shah, the mentor for the club, explained that it took the club six weeks to design, build and program the robot.
Shah said that his favorite part of being involved with the program is that he can “teach kids things in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and then see them build a robot that can accomplish the task it was built for.”
The 4-H Palindrome Robotics Club was formed when a group of young people approached Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H program leader, and Mallory Vogl, Cooperative Extension agent, about partnering with 4-H so they could compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which is a high school age competition that requires participants to be associated with a non-profit organization.
“A few of them had participated in another group before but they were trying to start their own group and it just seemed from the beginning like a wonderful partnership,” said Vogl. “We obviously are a non-profit organization and so that worked out for them. For us, 4-H has three national mission mandates, one of them being STEM, and science is our biggest push right now, so any time we have the opportunity to do some different science programs, we are all about that. It just seemed like a match made in heaven.”
The 4-H club has 18 members, and 16 of them attended competitions. The club usually meets once or twice a week, either Tuesday or Thursday, with meeting reminders sent out through email and posted on the club’s website.
Shah said that the club is now actively participating in community events and recruiting for its next season in 2015.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Danielle Quigley
May 16, 2014 in mainfeature
On Wednesday, May 14, during a gathering at the 2014 Delaware 4-H Legislative Day, Sussex County 4-H member Ashley Conroe was named as the second recipient of the Delaware 4-H Diamond Clover Award, the highest honor a 4-H member can earn. The 4-H Diamond Clover Award is Delaware 4-H’s formal acknowledgment of Conroe’s achievement to make a significant difference in her community and state.
Conroe is a member of the Lord Baltimore 4-H Helping Hands Club and resides in Ocean View, Del. with her parents Annmarie and Greg Conroe.
Delaware 4-H has long acknowledged excellence with blue ribbons, trophies, project pins and has awarded many scholarships to its 4-H members. The Diamond 4-H Clover Award is the capstone recognition to honor members who demonstrate extraordinary, sustained and focused service learning in their community.
The 4-H Diamond Clover Award is considered the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle or Girl Scout Gold Award.
“As with the Eagle, a very small number of members achieve this ultimate level of recognition,” said Dan Tabler a 4-H educator who conceived the award. The Diamond Clover Award also been adopted in Maryland and Nebraska. The Delaware 4-H Foundation sponsored the award for the First State.
To attain the Diamond Clover Award, a 4-H member must first progress through five stages. Upon completion, each stage is marked with a gemstone award designation – amethyst, aquamarine, ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond. “The sixth level requires the 4-H member to propose a major community service project that must be approved by a local Diamond Clover Committee and the State 4-H project leader,” said Tabler.
Delaware 4-H’s Project Leader Mark Manno supervised Conroe’s process which took nearly two years to complete. At the award ceremony, Manno described the 4-H Diamond Clover Award process as intense, “It is not a race, it is a journey,” Manno said. ” It takes a lot of work and it impacts a lot of people. It is not for everybody. You really have to be passionate, committed and be willing to shed a few tears,” Manno said.
Conroe’s project – some tears, a lot of rain and a feeling of accomplishment
In her years with 4-H, Conroe’s interests gravitated toward the sciences and was active in computer arts, graphic arts, aerospace and robotic projects. As a cross country team member at Indian River High School, Conroe first thought of the idea to develop a fitness course in the untended land she saw near her school’s cross country course.
“In our community, there are not many places or trails to use for people to exercise whenever they would like to, and membership in a gym can be expensive,” Conroe told the 4-H rally audience. “Having an exercise course like this would improve everyone’s health.”
Wood Science was never a chosen 4-H project for Conroe. All that was about to change.
Conroe approached her coach, Major Ryman about her idea and he approved. With his help, Conroe navigated through the approval process which meant several meetings with school board members and the school’s building and regulation committee.
Conroe used the Internet to research the different types of outdoor exercise courses available. One of stipulations of her meetings was that the material had to be natural to fit into the wooded setting where the course would be located. Conroe began to think what she might be able to construct. She had a natural resource built into her 4-H network.
Although wood science is a popular 4-H project, it was an area in which Conroe had no experience. “Since I didn’t have much wood working skills, I talked to several people to see who could help.”
Conroe talked with 4-H wood science leader Bo Waller, who gave her some workable ideas. “Luckily, my father has a lot of tools and saws I was able to use,” Conroe said.
Another stipulation was that the course have 10 stations, each spaced a tenth of a mile apart. Ambitious, but practical, Conroe knew creating 10 stations would prove difficult for one person to undertake. She decided to focus on three, and set about soliciting help to create the remaining seven. Her three stations are designed to allow runners to stretch and develop core muscle strength.
Conroe knew first hand the importance of muscle tone and injury prevention. During the project, Conroe tore her ACL during a soccer game. The injury delayed her ability to work on the project. “It was hard to move around and carry wood when you have two crutches in your hand,” Conroe admitted. Her injury required knee surgery and physical therapy. “I did learn a lot a from the physical therapy about correct exercises.”
Besides the challenges of her injury, Conroe fought an enduring rainy season, which slowed her progress. “It was hard to stabilize the wood because it was always muddy,” Conroe remembered. Each area of her station had to be cleared of grass, and soil had to be turned over and leveled. “One station was really woody and needed trees cut and weeds pulled. This took quite a long time,” Conroe said. Each station is finished off with mulch and outlined.
Conroe also networked with her IRHS graphics instructor Mr. Hoffman and his students to construct signs that explain each station’s purpose. “He is gong to make a big map where all the stations are, ” Conroe continued. Conroe wanted a uniform look for the entire fitness trail even though many people are contributing to the overall course. “I built a sign holder at each station and each one has the 4-H logo on it,” Conroe said.
Conroe focused her attention on her three stations – a sit-up bench, a set of three balance beams and a set of steps that runners can use to stretch or practice agility. “Each of the three exercise pieces was built at my house and transported to a field, ” Conroe said.
As her project began to take shape, others grew interested in the project. Conroe was able to get a teak bench donated. Conroe placed the bench near the center of the course as a place for people to rest.
Conroe, who is also a Girl Scout, worked with area scouts who donated materials to install bird houses placed in different areas throughout the course. Conroe also received donations from area lumber yards such as 84 Lumber and Lowes. A local Boy Scout is now working on one or more stations and Conroe consulted with her school’s construction teacher to have his students, who often make things for the community, to consider taking on any remaining stations to reach the goal of 10.
The journey to see her goal through taught Conroe how to ask for funds and receive donations and discounts from area vendors. “I learned how to stay organized and keep everything in line.” Injuries, weather delays and personal loss of her grandfather were all setbacks to achieve closure for her project, but Conroe persevered and believes she is stronger for the hardships she faced. “I learned things will always work out in the end,” Conroe reflected.
Conroe can now add 4-H wood working skills to her long 4-H resume.
“It feels really good to have the accomplishment and to actually do something for the community,” she said. “The cross country and football team are using it now. I think the soccer team is going to start using it soon.” Conroe hopes that the entire community, not just the school athletes, will enjoy the course. Conroe is looking to spread the word to her community.
Conroe is currently completing her first year of college at Delaware Technical and Community College and plans to attend Salisbury State University and plans to study physical therapy.
Article by Michele Walfred
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to drive a race horse? Have you ever thought about what it takes to care for a horse or prepare a horse to race? Harrington Raceway is hosting an overnight summer harness racing camp June 21-25, 2014 for youth ages 12-14. The camp is offered through a 3 way partnership formed between the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF), Harrington Raceway and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Campers will stay overnight at Harrington Raceway and spend a significant amount of time each day working hands on with the HHYF stable of Trottingbred racing ponies. Campers will participate in and learn about the daily care of race horses, racing equipment and harnessing, safety around horses and how to drive their equine athletes on the track.
In addition to HHYF and extension staff, local, professional drivers and trainers will be present at camp on a daily basis to help guide and instruct campers. The 5 day engaging camp experience culminates with campers partnering with professional drivers to race their ponies on the front track at Harrington Raceway, Wednesday evening June 25 in between the betting races. Registration for the camp is $150 and covers all accommodations, meals and field trips.
Campers should wear long pants, solid toed work shoes or heavy sneakers, and t-shirts. No tank tops or shorts will be permitted while working in the barn. No previous horse experience is required.
Registration forms are available on the State 4-H Animal Science webpage at https://extension.udel.edu/4h/files/2012/02/2014-Harness-Horse-Youth-Foundation-Harness-Racing-Camp-Application.pdf and will be accepted through May 15th. For questions, please contact Susan Garey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302)730-4000 or Ellen Taylor at the Harness Horse Youth Foundation at (317)908-0029 or at email@example.com
The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people’s lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.
Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.
85 Delaware 4-H members representing 26 teams competed recently in the State 4-H Horse Bowl Competition held at Lake Forest North Elementary in Felton, Delaware. The Horse Bowl event is a knowledge- based, quiz bowl competition. The Delaware 4-H Horse Advisory Committee, a group composed of 4-H volunteers from all three Delaware counties that are dedicated to providing quality 4-H horse programs to members, sponsors this annual event. Members compete on teams of up to four individuals and teams are divided into brackets based on age. 4-H volunteer adult leaders coach young people to prepare them in the months leading up to the competition. 41 Delaware 4-H volunteers assisted with the Horse Bowl event.
The top three teams in each age division were:
Beginner (8-10 year olds)
1st Place- Mini Stars- Sussex County
Team Members: Ruby Phillips, Layne Smith
Coaches: Jodie Gravenor, Heather Smith2nd Place- Palomino Ponies, Sussex County
Team Members: Cheyenne Bowman, Alexia Carroll, Donna Mullins, Paige Taylor
Coach: Heather Taylor
3rd Place- Stable Minds- Kent County
Team Members: Bethany Butler, Alex Docherty, Ally Smith, Ashton Stafford
Coaches: Heather Crouse, Stacy Stafford
Junior (11-13 year olds)
1st Place- Boots “N” Spurs- Sussex County
Team Members: Katelyn Records, Garrett Smith
Coach: Heather Records
2nd Place- Westville Wicked Riders- Kent County
Team Members: McKenna Corbeil, Maggie Kling
Coach: Brittany Blacksten, Laura Pomatto
3rd Place- Hearts-4-Horses- Kent County
Team Members: Rebekah Baughman, Nicole Cannavo, Ashlyn North, Donna Urian
Coach: Betsy Cannavo, Lee Halloran
Senior (14-19 year olds)
1st Place- Buckin’ Beauties- Sussex County
Team Members: Jackie Arpie, Rebecca Arpie, Mikayla Ockels, Whitney Records
Coach: Cindy Ockels
2nd Place- Hearts-4-Horses-Kent County
Team Members: Lexi Bloxom, Haley Reynolds, Hannah Ziccarelli
Coach: Rosemary Baughman, Connie Edwards
3rd Place- Holler-N-Hooves 4-H Club- Kent County
Team Members: Sara Deason, Katie Messick
Coaches: Sharon Little
4-H is a community of young people across Delaware learning leadership, citizenship and lifeskills. Join the Revolution of Responsibility! For more information on becoming a 4-H member or volunteer in Delaware please contact your county extension office:
New Castle County: (302)831-8965
Kent County: (302)730-4000
Sussex County: (302)856-7303
March 11, 2014 in mainfeature
With the right lumber and tools, Clyde Mellin can show just about anyone how to build a birdhouse. But the bigger take away is what is built within – the patience, character and confidence that develops when a 4-H’er participates in an experiential 4-H activity project taught by caring and dedicated adult volunteers.
On March 4, 2014, Delaware 4-H learned that Sussex County 4-H leader Clyde Mellin, Seaford, was named a 2014 Northeast Region recipient of the 4-H Salute to Excellence Award (STE) a national volunteer recognition program. Mellin, recognized as a state winner at February’s Delaware 4-H Leader Forum, is now is one of four individuals in consideration for national honors as the 4-H Volunteer of the Year. The national award winners will be announced during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12.
Mellin, a professional carpenter, began volunteering for Sussex County 4-H in 2011. Mellin invigorated interest in 4-H’s wood science area by offering a wide assortment of wood science projects and activities. Under his guidance, 4-H members constructed bat houses, robin nesting lodges, and giraffe recipe holders. But Mellin’s goals go far beyond showing someone how to build an object. With his workshops always at peak attendance, having a captive audience for a few hours means, for Mellin, an opportunity to reinforce skills such as tree identification, botany, suitability of wood for carpentry, wildlife and ecology (another 4-H project), math and measuring skills, safety best practices and following directions. Mellin serves as a judge for county 4-H project books and helps develop 4-H youth critical thinking skills through wood science judging contests at the county and state level. Mellin offers trainings throughout the 4-H year (see a 4-H YouTube of Mellin in action) and in 2013 serves as the project chair for the state. He has been a fixture at the Delaware State Fair organizing wood science trainings and a visible booster for 4-H overall. A regular at county meetings and wherever help is needed. Mellin does not always need lumber or power tools to build enthusiasm for 4-H.
“Clyde is very meticulous and organized,” said Jill Jackson, Sussex County 4-H Educator. “He has a wonderful connection with the 4-H members and they listen intently to what he teaches them in workshops and trainings.”
Beginning at the county level, The Salute to Excellence Award acknowledges outstanding volunteer service within two service divisions – Volunteer of the Year (VOY) for service 10 years or less and Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer (OLV) for service greater than 10 years. From the county level, candidates are considered for the state – regional and possible national levels of recognition. In Delaware, the Salute to Excellence Award is sponsored by the DuPont Company and the Delaware 4-H Foundation.
Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council stated in the announcement that each nominee was evaluated and scored “through a rigorous selection process.” Regional recipients will “receive $200 to be donated to the 4-H program of their choice and a $400 travel scholarship to attend their respective STE Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum,” Sirangelo wrote.
Delaware 4-H leaders celebrate, learn and receive recognition
In Delaware, more than 60,000 youth are impacted by 4-H programs and curriculum delivered through traditional clubs, afterschool programs, day and overnight camping and other events. Michelle Rodgers, associate dean at UD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and director of Cooperative Extension addressed the group. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Pa., Rodgers was an active 4-H’er and continued in collegiate 4-H while obtaining her undergraduate degree.
Rodgers said the success of the program in Delaware could not be realized without the contribution of the 4-H volunteer. “Our entire Extension program really runs with volunteers. You extend the work we can do in ways we can count that are very tangible in terms of the outreach and education and the impact we have realized in Delaware. My personal thanks to you for your role and leadership.”
At February’s forum UD Cooperative Extension specialist Ernie Lopez welcomed the large gathering of volunteer leaders who meet once a year to train in several 4-H curriculum areas, exchange ideas and are the focus of the special day of honoring their service. “The Salute to Excellence Awards are the pinnacle of recognition for our 4-H volunteers, not just here in Delaware but across the country, Lopez said. “We are all blessed for all of our wonderful volunteers.”
The list of First State 4-H volunteer winners for 2014 are:
• New Castle: Volunteer of the Year : Patricia Leach, Lifetime Volunteer: Kimberly Klair
• Kent County: Volunteer of the Year: Elaine Webb, Lifetime Volunteer: Joanne Carter
• Sussex County: Volunteer of the Year: Clyde Mellin, Lifetime Volunteer: Sharon Anderson
From these outstanding county winners, Delaware 4-H announced that Clyde Mellin and Sharon Anderson were selected to represent Delaware.
To become a Delaware 4-H leader, adults go through an extensive application process which includes a criminal background check. In addition to training opportunities at the annual forum, 4-H volunteers receive curriculum training and support at the county level, and many participate in regional and national 4-H leader forums and 4-H sponsored events.
For more information on Delaware’s 4-H programs visit the Delaware 4-H website.
Article by Michele Walfred, photos by William Campbell
2014 Delaware 4-h Salute to Excellence winners were announced on Feb. 1, 2014 at the Delaware 4-H annual leader forum. The recipients are:
Please view picture gallery here
New Castle County
Patricia Leach – Volunteer of the Year
Patricia grew up in Delaware 4-H and has been organizational leader for the Delaware Diamonds 4-H Club for two years. Patricia organizes many community events, is a race day volunteer for the Quest for Clover 4K, assists NCC Leader Association with the food booth and helps set up the county 4-H Achievement Banquet. She gathered youth to participage in National 4-H Council’s new marketing initiative.
Kimberly Klair – Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer
Kim has served as the Porter Club 4-H organizational leader for 13 years, which was also her club growing up. Kim serves as NCC Leader Association president. She volunteers to cook at UD’s Ag Day and serve food for the leaders. Kim has assisted with Delaware State Fair clean up for m any years and has served as a judge’s assistant. She participates in the 4-H fundraisers at the Delaware Blue Rocks, and several Friendly’s restaurant events.
Elaine Webb – Volunteer of the Year
Elaine Webb is one of the most organized 4-H Organizational Leaders that I have had the pleasure to work with. She is an outstanding leader who has created a strong base of project leaders who are working with 4-H youth in a wide range of project areas. Her club program continues to provide outstanding opportunities and learning experiences for all her 4-H club members.
Joanne Carter – Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer
Joanne Carter has been an outstanding volunteer in Kent County for over 16 years. She has provided strong leadership to her local club, but also just as importantly, to our County Leader Association in her role of President for several years for this group. She is definitely a person who can be counted on to help in any way she can, and continues to be a strong volunteer in assisting at most all county 4-H events throughout the year.
Sussex County *Denotes State Winner **Denotes Regional Winner
Clyde Mellin – Volunteer of the Year **
Click here to read more about Clyde’s service to Delaware 4-H here.
Sharon Anderson – Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer *
Sharon has been the organizational leader of the Hollymount 4-H Club since 2006. Despite not coming from a 4-H background herself, she has fully immersed herself in all things 4-H. Sharon had previously won Sussex County STE Volunteer of the Year and she has been inducted into the Sussex County 4-H Order of the Link. Sharon’s club is very active in community service projects in the Lewes-Milton area including Adopt-A Beach, Meals on Wheels, donations to SPCA and various parades. Sharon and club members are regular volunteers at the successful 4-H Farm Tour hosted by the Hopkins Family at Green Acres Farm. Sharon also has served as an onsite nurse at many 4-H events.
February 28, 2014 in mainfeature
On January 30, 2014, Sequoia Rent, Young Health Program Coordinator and Jayla Cannon attended the Health Rocks Youth Ambassador Summit at 4-H National Conference Center in DC. The summit was part of the 4th annual National Drug Facts Week which took place from January 27–February 2, 2014. The week-long event, launched in 2010 by NIDA, provides an opportunity for teens to shatter myths about drugs and drug abuse. In community and school events all over America, teens and experts come together for an honest conversation about how drugs affect the brain, body and behavior. Students also have the opportunity to ask scientists questions about drugs, or discuss NIDA materials designed for teens.
4-H partnered with NIDA and presented the Health Rocks! Youth Ambassador Summit, which exposed youth leaders participating in Health Rocks! to top notch experts in their field,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council President & CEO. “To date, the Health Rocks! program has impacted more than 400,000 youth since implementation 15 years ago.
As part of the celebration, David Mineta, deputy director of Demand Reduction for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, served as keynote speaker. Lisa Lauxman, director, Division Youth & 4-H at National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, also took part in the ceremony along with staff from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Youth representatives from eight states who have implemented the Health Rocks! program presented on substance abuse issues most affecting their community including our very own Jayla Cannon. The event allowed youth to gain more insight about the effects of substance abuse to further assist their local program implementation.
February 6, 2014 in mainfeature
On Saturday, Feb. 1, Delaware 4-H announced Sarah Bell, of Seaford, as the first recipient of the Delaware 4-H Diamond Clover Award, the highest honor a 4-H member can earn. The 4-H Diamond Clover Award is Delaware 4-H’s formal acknowledgment of Bell’s achievement to make a significant difference in her community and state. Sarah is a member of the Stateline 4-H club based in Seaford.
Delaware 4-H has long acknowledged excellence with blue ribbons, trophies, project pins and has awarded many scholarships to its 4-H members. However, as the largest youth program in the nation, 4-H did not have a signature capstone award to honor members who demonstrated extraordinary, sustained and focused service learning in their community.
Bell, it turns out, was Delaware 4-H’s diamond in the rough.
Before a crowd of adult 4-H volunteer leaders, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and 4-H staff, family and friends, Bell was officially presented with the inaugural award.
“The Boy Scout Eagle is the gold standard of youth awards and it was used as the model for the Diamond Clover,” said Dan Tabler, a retired 4-H agent with a long tri-state career in Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.
Tabler authored the concept and first suggested the Diamond Clover Award idea to his Maryland 4-H colleagues where it has become the premiere 4-H award. Tabler said the award should be regarded in the same high-esteem as the Scout award and added, “As with the Eagle, a very small number of members achieve this ultimate level of recognition.”
To attain the Diamond Clover Award, a 4-H member must progress through five stages. Upon completion, each stage is marked with a gemstone award designation – amethyst, aquamarine, ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond. “The sixth level requires the 4-H member to propose a major community service project that must be approved by a local Diamond Clover Committee and the State 4-H project leader,” said Tabler.
Tabler explained the process is completely voluntary, “but it is something that 4-H members choose to strive for.” At present, the Diamond Clover Award has been adopted in Maryland, Delaware and Nebraska, Tabler said. The Delaware 4-H Foundation sponsored the award for the First State.
At the award ceremony, Delaware 4-H program leader Mark Manno described the 4-H Diamond Clover Award process as intense, noting that the final level will likely take more than one year to complete. “It is not a race, it is a journey,” Manno said.
After Bell’s presentation, Manno held up his index finger and acknowledged the power of one. “That’s one 4-H’er. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of youth who are capable of making a difference like Sarah has made,” he said. Manno told the audience that approximately 80 Delaware 4-H youth are presently working on one of the six levels toward a Diamond Clover Award.
Bell selected childhood illiteracy as her sustained service-learning project after hearing a presentation from Read Aloud Delaware given at Sussex Tech High School, where Bell is a member of the Class of 2014. She titled her project “Read to Succeed Delaware!” and through exhaustive research, Bell discovered that one in five Delawareans are functionally illiterate.
Bell learned that illiteracy rates could be positively impacted if children are reached at a young age. Her examination of the issue also revealed that families with low income had few or no children’s books in the home, a significant contributor to illiteracy.
Bell conceived a plan to establish a means by which families could obtain free children’s books. Bell partnered with the Delaware State Service Center, operated by Delaware’s Division of Health and Human Services.
The centers help families in need with a variety of services. “I thought the idea was perfect. I contacted all the service center administrators in the state and all of them wanted literacy centers,” Bell said. “Their passion for helping people was evident.”
All 15 centers agreed to provide space and a table for reading and obtaining literacy resources. Bell then approached Read Aloud Delaware and pitched the idea to permanently sponsor the literacy centers. They were willing to help, Bell explained, on the condition that she first establish an initial supply of books to serve all 15 centers, as well as create or obtain literacy resources and displays for families visiting the centers.
Bell recruited a team of 12 youth and adults, and began the process of fundraising and establishing book drives throughout her community. Bell also took advantage of valuable contacts within her communities at Delaware 4-H, Delaware Girl Scouts and her Gethsemane United Methodist Church. Bell credits them for giving her moral support, agreeing to serve as a book donation site, or donating books or the money to purchase them.
Bell put the donations to efficient use and became a book bargain hunter, finding suitable children’s books for as low as ten cents apiece at yard sales and thrift stores. Her church community led in donations for the approximately 3,000 books needed to get the literacy centers in operation. Read Aloud Delaware now oversees responsibility.
The 15 centers, along with new parents at the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, now have access to bilingual materials that stress the importance of literacy and point to where literary resources are available.
In pursuit of the 4-H Diamond Clover Award, Bell soon realized her ultimate goal was less about the award, than it was about making a lasting difference. “It taught me that I can be capable of leading adults as well as youth, and that I can achieve things that I previously thought were beyond my abilities,” she said.
In addition to 4-H, Bell has received numerous recognitions in the Girl Scouts, is a 2014 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and is active in her school and church organizations. Bell plans to one day become an elementary school teacher, saying “I look forward to helping my students achieve high literacy levels so they can become successful learners, which will help them become successful adults.”
Article by Michele Walfred
Photo by William Campbell for Delaware 4-H