Chesterfield financial planning classes pay off for local residents

Economic woes and balancing personal finances can be challenging for anyone, but it can be doubly hard when someone is living in poverty or doesn’t speak the native language.

So the local Virginia Cooperative Extension offices in Chesterfield, Virginia, are equipping people with knowledge that helps them create a better economic future.

More than 6 percent of Chesterfield County lives below the poverty line. In homes where a single mom is raising kids, that number creeps as high as 31 percent. People living in these situations are especially vulnerable to losing control of their finances.

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4-H camps in Page County teach life (changing) lessons

Campers and counselors at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center. More than 17,000 young people attend 4-H camps each year around the commonwealth

Campers and counselors at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center. More than 17,000 young people attend 4-H camps each year around the commonwealth

The quintessential “summer camp” letter is usually addressed from child to parent, gushing about new experiences and friendships. But one letter about 4-H camp in Page County, Virginia, came to 4-H Youth Development Agent Nicole Clem from the mother of a teen junior camper. The letter read, “I can’t thank you enough for allowing my son to attend camp. It was a certainly a positive experience for him. This is all he has talked about for days.”

While 4-H Camp is very traditional in the sense that it offers outdoor activities in a rural setting the mission of the program is loftier than evening sing-a-longs around a campfire — though the traditional evening meeting around a campfire also happens.

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4-H transmits science loud and clear through Maker education in Prince George County

The Maker Program encourages children to find create ways to solve problems using the science, technology, engineering, and math

The Maker Program encourages children to find create ways to solve problems using the science, technology, engineering, and math

The young child from Prince George County couldn’t believe what was before him – a radio he had made with his very own hands. But it was about so much more than just one radio.

“I can’t believe it! I built a radio and it works. I can do anything!” he said.

The child was one of the many who participated in the Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Maker program and learned about their untapped potential.

Maker programming encourages thinking by doing hands-on activities to create and modify objects by repurposing, reusing, up-cycling, fabricating or employing shortcuts and novel, untried methods to problem-solve. It’s also part and parcel of a comprehensive initiative aligned with research supported by exterior entities such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to make science more accessible to youth and in doing so, instilling intrinsic motivation for learning.

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Chesapeake Master Gardener program growing a love of trees

One of the many thank-you notes that Mike Andruczyk has received since launching a tree-planting program in Chesapeake.

One of the many thank-you notes that Mike Andruczyk has received since launching a tree-planting program in Chesapeake.

If the drawing of the smiling girl standing in front of a rainbow and a tree weren’t enough to convey the impact of a Virginia Cooperative Extension program in the City of Chesapeake, then the writing underneath it did.

“Thank you for our katsura tree. You are awesome and great. I wish I was a tree planter like you,” a first-grader named Jenesis wrote in neat, tight handwriting. “Trees are beautiful to me!”

It was just one of the many thank-you notes that Extension Horticulture Agent Mike Andruczyk has received since launching the What is a Tree program that teaches students — many of who have never planted anything in their lives – about the value of trees.

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Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours celebrate 40th anniversary

Registration is now open for the Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tours.

Registration is now open for the Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tours.

Combining education, networking, sightseeing, and good food, the Fall Forestry and WildlifeField Tours have provided the opportunity to learn about sustainable forestry management for 40 years and counting. This year’s tours, offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will start on Oct. 7.

The tours offer landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested individuals the opportunity to spend a day in the field visiting a variety of properties that are actively managed. Participants will visit private, industry, and public lands that center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices. At each tour stop, participants meet with landowners to hear their stories, learn from their experiences, and even share a meal.

Complementing the 40th anniversary of the tours, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program has recently created a series of videos highlighting the experiences of several participating landowners. In addition to the field tours, the award-winning program offers a number of training sessions and other resources throughout the year, including weekend retreats, short courses, online classes, and newsletters.

“We wanted to know if our programs were actually making a difference,” said Jennifer Gagnon, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program coordinator.

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