Digital media program empowers youth to express themselves

“With assistance from the state 4-H office, the Virginia Youth Voices program will be sustained for youth who have something important to say through digital media. As the program continues to grow, higher visual and digital media impact is expected,” said Jamison.

In the digital age, computers, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices are becoming more prevalent every day. So how do we foster creativity, compassion, and curiosity in a time when young people are glued to their screens? We teach them how to use that technology for something more.

Virginia 4-H’s Virginia Youth Voices program empowers youth to use technology to explore and express their perspectives on issues impacting them and their communities. Participants create compelling videos, animations, photo essays, presentations, music, and other works that contribute the essential perspectives of youth to critical topics and inspire new solutions to long-standing problems.



4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program connects and impacts communities in Senegal

Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth  Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region.

Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region. Reggie Morris, 4-H Youth Development Extension agent in Alexandria, is pictured in second row, second from right.

When it was time to take nominations for officers of the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program in the Senegalese village of Toubacouta, one young woman stood out.

As Aida Nathalie Dieng’s hand shot up almost unconsciously to volunteer for the position of president, she spoke in a determined way about why she wanted to serve as the leader of the club in her village, and toward the end of her speech tears began to run down her cheeks.

“Having the opportunity to be heard is empowering, and even moving,” said Kathleen Jamison, professor emerita and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in 4-H  youth development.

Jamison and her team recently took the mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program to the West African nation with the goal of building ties between children, families, and communities to give individuals the ability to live sustainable and meaningful lives that exemplify 4-H mission goals.

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Conference brings together partners in health

Crystal Tyler-Mackey, Dorothy McAuliffe, and Eric Bowen

Virginia’s first lady Dorothy McAuliffe (center) stopped by National Health Outreach Conference to underscored the importance of healthy habits. McAuliffe is flanked by Crystal Tyler-Mackey, VCE community viability specialist  and Eric Bowen, VCE area food safety agent.

Health professionals, educators, and policymakers gathered in Roanoke in April to learn more about building partnerships in communities to promote physical and mental wellness.

The 2016 National Health Outreach Conference, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, was grounded in the theme “All Aboard: Building Partnerships for a Healthy America.”

“This conference brings many different individuals together from fields as varied as nutrition and exercise, mental health, and community viability,” said Crystal Tyler-Mackey, community viability specialist with Extension. “By using a comprehensive approach to address the needs of often underserved populations, we are able to not only be concerned with marginalized populations, but also with providing culturally relevant programming and solutions to the groups that we serve.”

Indeed, Extension is often the crux of relationships in communities that strive to be leaders in wellness and seek out many different partners to achieve health and wellness goals.

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Living the Legacy — 4-H Forever

After 95 years, Virginia’s State 4-H Congress remains the premier 4-H event, drawing more than 450 young adults from across the commonwealth to the campus of Virginia Tech for four days of learning, leadership, and fun.

“4-H Congress provides members an opportunity to develop life skills and hone their leadership abilities while forging new friendships,” said Tonya Price, an Extension 4-H youth development specialist.

This year’s theme — Living the Legacy – 4-H Forever — drew upon the history of 4-H and its power to assist teens in developing leadership, citizenship, and life skills through hands-on educational programs.

During congress, delegates have the opportunity to compete in events like food challenges and extemporaneous speaking contests. They can also attend workshops to learn more about 4-H competitions like the electric challenge or cattle working. And while at congress, delegates participate in a service-learning project.


Redesigned website highlights Virginia’s big trees

The state’s big trees might seem even a little “bigger” on the Virginia Big Tree Program’s newly redesigned website.

“The website lists information about the largest trees in Virginia,” said Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extensionspecialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. He serves as coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program.

“We hope this redesign will encourage even more individuals to use the website,” Wiseman said. “We aimed for a simpler, intuitive layout that will be easier to use on mobile devices.” He added that updating the website in time for Arbor Day, celebrated this year on April 29, seemed appropriate.

Virginia’s big trees are those that are the largest of their species, measured by height, trunk circumference, and crown spread. The website lists the five largest trees of more than 300 different species and includes photographs of the honored trees as well as their location, the names of the individuals who nominated them, and in some cases, the name of landowner.


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