Tag Archives: 4-H

Virginia Tech launches Feed the Future Senegal Youth in Agriculture project

Ya Cor Ndione, associate national director; Rick Rudd, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Megan Kyles, USAID/Senegal agriculture/nutrition specialist; Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Kathleen Jamison, professor emeritus and Extension specialist; Bineta Guisse, national director; Fatimata Kane, 4-H specialist; and Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H leader, Virginia 4-H, attend the program launch in Senegal.

Ya Cor Ndione, associate national director; Rick Rudd, head of the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Megan Kyles, USAID/Senegal agriculture/nutrition specialist; Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Kathleen Jamison, professor emeritus and Extension specialist; Bineta Guisse, national director; Fatimata Kane, 4-H specialist; and Jeremy Johnson, state 4-H leader, Virginia 4-H, attend the program launch in Senegal.

Twenty miles east of Senegal’s capital city, hundreds of guests arrived in Senegal’s newest city, Diamniadio, for the grand event.

Youth photographers snapped pictures of the guests before they strolled down the green carpet. In fact, the stars of this event included the entire guest list — the dedicated volunteers, leaders, partners, and participants who support the engagement of Senegal’s youth in the country’s economic growth.

On May 22, the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) officially launched its newest project, Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture (Youth in Agriculture), at the Centre International de Conférences Abdou Diouf in Diamniadio.

Funded by USAID, the five-year, $4 million project will carry on the work of the CIRED-led Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project in Senegal by expanding 4-H clubs across the country and institutionalizing positive youth development (PYD) nationally. The project will also work with vocational training institutions to strengthen their connections to private-sector actors and markets, including the piloting of innovative approaches for creating entrepreneurship and income-generating opportunities for youth.

Youth who work with the ERA project hosted the ceremony, which featured adult and youth speakers representing Virginia Tech, USAID/Senegal, and the government of Senegal, as well as Senegalese agricultural institutions and women’s food processing platforms. Guests were also treated to video highlights, commemorative photos, and a “wall of fame,” a display in which participants wrote messages in support of the project. Staff from Virginia Cooperative Extension were on hand to provide support for many of the activities.

“With a focus on the next generation of farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs, Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture will help build a prosperous future for all Senegalese,” said Kitty Andang, USAID/Senegal deputy mission director, during the ceremony. “Jeunesse en Agriculture will increase youth participation in Senegal’s economic growth by implementing a positive youth development program, already launched as part of the first phase of Feed the Future in Senegal.”

In 2015, the 4-H Senegal PYD program was established in Toubacouta, south of the capital of Dakar, as part of the ERA project. Modeled after the 4-H Youth Development program of the Cooperative Extension Service and land-grant university system in the U.S., the 4-H program in Senegal has already attracted more than 600 members.

“With the launch of Feed the Future Senegal Jeunesse en Agriculture, CIRED redoubles its commitment to helping youth around the world to become thriving, confident, and skilled actors in economic growth,” said Van Crowder, executive director of CIRED, part of Outreach and International Affairs. “Jeunesse en Agriculture is another testament of CIRED’s commitment to link Virginia Tech to the world through innovative research, partnership, and collaboration.”

“This project fits squarely within the priorities of the government of Senegal and of USAID, both of which realize the importance of engaging young people in positive youth development and agricultural entrepreneurship. As a result, this launch event has generated a lot of buzz, and expectations are high,” said Tom Archibald, project director and assistant professor. “We really look forward to achieving meaningful positive impacts in the lives of thousands of young people across Senegal, which can also provide lessons to share with other development projects across West Africa and around the globe.”

Fatou Diouf, a student at the Institute for Advanced Agricultural and Rural Training in Bambey, Senegal, and a member of 4-H Senegal, delivered an impassioned speech during the ceremony. “We are proud to celebrate the launch of the project, because we remain convinced that a project cannot be more useful than one that serves humanity,” Diouf said. “This ambitious program, implemented by passionate and unselfish actors, is a model for the path to development.”

Jeunesse en Agriculture will remain housed under ERA during the project’s first year. Subsequently, the project headquarters will be embedded within the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation’s new offices in Diamniadio as well as in the regional offices of the national PYD program within universities.

– Written by April Raphiou

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Red salamander named official salamander of Virginia, thanks to 4-H group

red salamander

Did you know Virginia has more than 40 emblems that represent the state’s cultural heritage and natural resources, including the beloved northern cardinal, big-eared bat, tiger swallowtail butterfly, and nelsonite, the official rock of Virginia.

Recently, another state emblem was signed into law – the red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber). The species is now Virginia’s official state salamander. The striking crimson amphibian was selected because of its beautiful coloration, widespread distribution throughout the commonwealth, and its ability to raise awareness about the conservation of a species whose reclusive habits make it difficult for many people to appreciate them.

Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, sponsored the bill at the urging of young conservationists affiliated with Salamander Savers, an ecological-minded 4-H group in the city whose members range in age from 8 to 18. The youth, who also received support from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Herpetological Society, and many naturalists and teachers, have been working for two years to raise awareness about salamanders.

“I am excited to introduce these bright young activists to the civic process,” Filler-Corn told WHSV.com news. “It is my hope that this is just the beginning of their engagement with government and that they will continue their advocacy for years to come.”

4-H is the youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Through 4-H, young people are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H’s “learning by doing” philosophy of youth development. Administered through the state’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, 4-H is the first experience many young people have with higher education.

The Salamander Savers experienced many challenges along the way. Last year, the 4-H’ers visited the capitol in Richmond more than seven times to meet with legislators. Each trip took about six hours. The students even drew pictures of the salamander on cards, delivering them to lawmakers as part of their lobbying effort.

The bill passed 96-1 in the House of Delegates and 39-1 by the Senate.

This 4-H group was founded in response to the dredge of a Fairfax lake in 2015. Three children were inspired to save the salamanders from the surrounding lake, appealing to local government officials for help. The 4-H members attended meetings, advocated in front of adults, and fought to save the lake’s vernal pools.

“When our lake was dredged, my kids asked me questions that I wasn’t able to answer. As a home-schooling mother, I was determined to try to find answers to their questions,” said Anna Kim, the 4-H club’s adult leader, and mother of Jonah Kim, 14, the club’s president.

In addition, Kim said that her son wanted to give a voice to the animals who could not speak for themselves.

“We chose the red salamander because it lives throughout Virginia,” said the younger Kim. “We thought it was easily recognizable and would be interesting to people who have never seen a salamander.”

The amphibian is a member of the Plethodontidae family, a group of lungless salamanders that breathe through their skin. Because of their unique respiration, their environment needs to be free of toxins or they will absorb the pollutants through their skin. By bringing attention to the red salamander, Salamander Savers members hope to raise awareness about the 56 species that reside in Virginia.

—  Written by Amy Painter

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Virginia Tech professor and 4-H youth team up to establish Community and 4-H Center in Senegal

4-H Senegal members help bring food to the new center in Santamba.

4-H Senegal members help bring food to the new center in Santamba.

After years of fundraising and collaboration, the Samuel and Eleanor Morris Community and 4-H Center has been established in Santamba, Senegal, an inland village in the southern region, just above the Gambia.

The center, designed to benefit the entire community, will become a place for youth and adults to develop leadership skills and move forward together.

The center was made possible through the work and financial support of many, including the Morris family, the Virginia 4-H program, the USAID Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project management team, and Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Ozzie Abaye, whose participation was instrumental. For Abaye, her work with the Santamba community was inspired by her parents and mentors, Samuel and Eleanor Morris, for whom the center was named.

“They dedicated their lives to public service and emphasized education as the tool for successful individual development and community-building,” said Abaye, explaining why her parents were a perfect fit for the naming of the center.

The center, which will serve around 300 people, is designed as a venue for a variety of social and business activities, providing a meeting room and a food preparation space. It will meet the needs of the Santamba community and will be led by a community-elected management team.

The center will also be key to the continued development of 4-H Senegal as a safe space for youth to gather and learn. 4-H Senegal was established to motivate young people to understand agriculture, to be involved in family farms, and to join in with their communities. The program was officially launched two years ago and now has a home in the center.

Katlyn Smith, a Virginia Tech student interested in youth development, saw the potential for a 4-H program early on. Smith traveled to Senegal with Abaye.

“I feel that 4-H is really going to help bring the community together, and I know the youth are going to be so appreciative to have something like 4-H to participate in,” Smith said following her trip to Senegal.

While there, she worked with children, playing games, gardening, and leading community service projects. This work was central to the early stages of 4-H Senegal.

When efforts on the Senegal project began, the center captured the hearts of Virginia 4-H’ers. The 4-H youth selected “Cents for Senegal” as their 2016 State 4-H Congress charity campaign – an effort that would become the group’s highest grossing youth campaign, more than doubling the initial goal. This was largely because of the personal connections many 4-H’ers made with Bineta Guisse, the Senegalese 4-H coordinator and outreach officer who visited Virginia during last year’s 4-H Congress.

Guisse’s visit was so impactful that one 4-H’er was inspired to donate all proceeds from the sale of her 4-H lamb project. Elizabeth Koranek from Madison County donated $2,331 after learning about the Senegalese woman’s hopes for the center.

Virginia 4-H’ers showed their dedication to their peers in Senegal while demonstrating the impact young people can make. The Virginia 4-H funds were used to pour cement, paint the center, and plant trees.

The Samuel and Eleanor Morris Community and 4-H Center is advancing the efforts of USAID/ERA, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Virginia 4-H. For the village of Santamba, the center will be a home for education and community.

— Written by Caroline Sutphin

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Virginia 4-H crowdfunds to support Brazilian youth development program

students in Brazil

Character Counts! is making an impact in more than 65 schools in Brazil.

For more than a decade, Virginia 4-H has been working in Brazil to bring character education and training to educators, students, and families. The Character Counts! program has made an impact in more than 65 schools, improving student behavior, reducing violence, and increasing family involvement.

“Character Counts! changed our whole classroom routine. There are fewer fights at recess, and we study harder and ask for help when we need it now,” said a 13-year-old student who participated in the program.

This month, Virginia 4-H launched the “Bills for Brazil” campaign to solicit donations through Virginia Tech’s JUMP crowdfunding platform. Their goal of $4,999 will help expand the program and reach more educators and students in Brazil.

Sponsors will be directly supporting training for teachers, principals, judges, and all community leaders who affect the lives of children in Brazil. A $20 donation provides 20 Character Counts! posters for one school, while a $50 donation gives a full scholarship for Character Counts! advanced training. A $120 donation pays for a substitute teacher so educators can participate in the two-day training.

Character Counts! is designed to address the character development challenges youth face today. The program emphasizes the importance of teaching ethics and good character in the classroom and the home. Children across Virginia, and now Brazil, have learned some of their earliest ethical behavior from the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

Virginia 4-H representative Glenda Snyder first went to Brazil in 2004 to build partnerships and begin the work of bringing Character Counts! to Brazil’s youth. By 2006, the pilot program became training held in Joinville, Santa Catarina. More than 250 school faculty and judges working with troubled youth attended, addressing violence prevention and fostering a stronger community to support children.

Each year, the program has grown, reaching 1,700 teachers, principals, judges, and community leaders in Santa Catarina, Minas Gerais, and Rio Grande Do Norte. Virginia 4-H has impacted more than 65 schools and 70,000 students who have attended.

The trainings have now expanded to include conflict management, learning styles, and classroom management. Teachers can participate in the initial two-day basic Character Counts! training or the more recent advanced training designed for teachers returning to the program. More than 350 educators have participated.

In 2018, Virginia 4-H also visited Joinville, the site of the earliest Character Counts! training in Brazil, to see their work in action in the schools. The teachers and the school administration reported decreased violence, improved classroom behavior, and an increase in parent involvement.

4-H is the youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Through 4-H, young people are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H’s “learning by doing” philosophy of youth development. Administered through the state’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, 4-H is the first experience many young people have with higher education.

To support Character Counts! programming in Brazil, please visit the JUMP campaign.

-Written by Caroline Sutphin

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