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Virginia 4-Hers depending on fund-raising efforts

By JANE W. GRAHAM
AFP Correspondent

(April 4, 2017) Learning by doing has long been a basic principle of the 4-H Youth Development movement. This is true this spring in Virginia where club members, parents and the Virginia Cooperative Extension agents are working to raise money for their club activities.
“Clubs raise funds to support educational programs and activities in the club,” said. Cathy Sutphin, associate director of Virginia 4-H Youth Development. “For example, the group may need funds for project materials, tours, to attend a district or state 4-H event or to participate in and exchange trip.
Through fund raising, youth learn to budget and manage funds to achieve club goals.”
Fund raising across the state is as varied as the youth and projects they are pursuing.
“4-H is a non-profit educational organization,” Sutphin said. “The 4-H programs, on the local level are led by the VCE faculty and staff who manage program volunteers. 4-H is a good example of a public-private partnership.”
This means the programs need more than the family volunteers.
In many cases fundraising includes the youth themselves, their parents, businesses and civic clubs, churches and other community members.
“Salaries are cooperatively funded by federal, state and local partners with the expectation that the majority of program funds will be raised from other sources,” she added. “4-H clubs and groups raise funds in a variety of ways including grants, sponsorships, charitable gifts and fund raisers. Charitable contributions to 4-H are accepted through the Virginia 4-H Foundation which is part of the Virginia Tech Foundation.”
Sutphin said that other clubs across the state have different ways to raise money. A few have been gifted with endowments that allow the clubs to have some annual income in addition to their own efforts.
Spring is always a major fundraising time for 4-Hers as members, parents, grandparents, volunteers and Extension staff ramp up efforts to get the money needed to support summer activities.
In Giles County 4-H Extension Agent Sarah Pratt said she turns to the community to help support the clubs.
Pratt said she is writing letters to the community, including civic clubs such as the Lions and Ruritan Clubs to raise scholarship money for 4-H campers.
“They are very supportive and really want to send these kids to camp,” she said of the community.
In neighboring Pulaski County where 85 percent of the 4-H clubs are in-school and 15 percent are project clubs there is a lot of fundraising activity by students, Chris Lichty, the county’s senior Extension 4-H agent, said.
The county school system cooperating with Extension is another big plus, she added.
Selling plants is a popular fundraiser in the county, Lichty added. The youth not only learn about the financial elements but get hands on experience is the fundamental activity for their club.
On a bright mid-March afternoon members of the Riverlawn School 4-H Garden Club gathered in the school’s greenhouse to transplant beefsteak tomatoes plugs into larger containers where the plants will grow until sale time.
The club members will nurture the plants and learn the how and why of what they do and then make money for their club.
The Pulaski County Livestock Club is raising money for a trip to Texas this summer.
It is doing several different things: spaghetti suppers, a pizza night, raffling off a half of beef, and plant sales.
“The whole community makes this possible,” Lichty said.
Like Pratt, Lichty said he spends a lot of time writing grants and seeking community participation.
“If you make it more personal people are willing to donate,” he said.