Tag Archives: volunteers

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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4-H builds communities around the world

In a Senegalese village, children grow vegetable seedlings and organize traditional wrestling events as fundraisers in a positive youth development initiative modeled after Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program.

Virginia Cooperative Extension senior 4-H youth development agent Ruth Wallace (left) poses 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, Virginia, is pictured in the second row, second from right.

Virginia Cooperative Extension senior 4-H youth development agent Ruth Wallace (left) poses 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, Virginia, is pictured in the second row, second from right.

At the Ndoumbouji primary school, the main focus is gardening.

“The teachers told us that every break they have, the students run to the garden,” said Ozzie Abaye, a Virginia Tech professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences. “The group wants to try to expand the garden project outside of the campus.”

Through activities such as gardening and leadership training, 4-H’s international programming has helped to improve thousands of lives around the globe.

Kathleen Jamison, professor emerita and 4-H youth development specialist, and her team completed training workshops in March designed to scale up the programs’ outreach efforts throughout Senegal.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension accepting applications for 2017 New River Valley Master Gardener training program

Applications for the 2017 New River Valley Master Gardener training program are due by Dec. 19.

Applications for the 2017 New River Valley Master Gardener training program are due by Dec. 19.

Are you looking for a way to improve your community through volunteer service?  Do you have an interest in horticulture?  Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge?  If the answer to all of these questions is yes, being a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener may be right for you.

Applications that can be found online are now being accepted for the New River Valley Master Gardener training program and are  due by Dec. 19. Applicants must be able to attend a 60-hour training course and complete 50 hours of volunteer service with Virginia Cooperative Extension during their first year.

The cost for the 60-hour course is $150, which covers the “Virginia Master Gardener Handbook” textbook and other training materials.

The training course will be held from March to May on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1– 4 p.m. at the Hahn Horticulture Pavilion at Virginia Tech. Students will get an equivalent of three college credits worth of knowledge from classes taught by Virginia Tech professors and Virginia Cooperative Extension agents.

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Education is paramount for York/Poquoson Master Gardener volunteers

The York/Poquoson Master Gardeners are helping area residents take an active role in improving the region’s environment through community collaboration and educational outreach.

Master Gardener volunteers Merrilyn Dodson and Pete Peterman measure lawns for homeowners for the Healthy Virginia Lawns Program.

Master Gardener volunteers Merrilyn Dodson and Pete Peterman measure lawns for homeowners for the Healthy Virginia Lawns Program.

“The Master Gardener Program brings scientific-based education to the public to help improve lives through citizen outreach. Our program focuses on the needs of citizens in York and Poquoson based on resident input, environmental assessments, and innovation,” said Megan Tierney, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources agent.

For the York/Poquoson Master Gardener Program, community education is key to sustaining environmental responsibility. The program hosts several events throughout the year at which guest speakers and Master Gardener volunteers educate homeowners on topics including landscaping, pruning, beekeeping, lawn care, and native plant care.

Gwen Harris, who has been a Master Gardener in the community since 2012, explained that each program’s responsibilities and educational efforts differ depending on the region they serve.

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Energy Masters Program energizes Arlington County

Volunteers in Arlington County and Alexandria are making a difference — one light bulb and toilet tank at a time. With more than 6,000 hours of volunteer service, these masters of energy efficiency are helping low-income families make their homes more comfortable while reducing their water and energy bills.

An Energy Masters Program volunteer caulks a window to prevent drafts and keep moisture from rotting the wood around the window.

An Energy Masters Program volunteer caulks a window to prevent drafts and keep moisture from rotting the wood around the window.

The Energy Masters Program, funded by the Arlington County Community Development Fund, has made strides in improving energy efficiency for residents living in affordable housing units in Arlington County neighborhoods. The program is a collaboration between the Virginia Cooperative Extension Arlington County Office and two county nonprofit organizations — Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and Arlington Thrive.

“Training teams of volunteers to go into low-income apartments and do energy- and water-saving improvements helps lower the utility bills of both the residents and the property owners, ultimately improving the environment by eliminating the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere,” said Jennifer Abel, family and consumer sciences Extension agent in Arlington County. “Since starting the program in 2011, we’ve trained 152 volunteers, and we’ve made improvements in 591 apartments.”

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