- Author: Curtis Ullerich
4-H is operated as a partnership of staff and volunteers (and many of those volunteers are youth members!). Volunteers are critical to the program and 4-H simply couldn't exist without them. The roles we take on as volunteers can vary widely in scope and in how concrete our objectives are.
Evaluating at a presentation day, for example, is a well-defined role: You know exactly how long you'll be volunteering and that you'll be completing a feedback rubric about presentations.
Being a County Ambassador Advisor is a less concrete role. In this position you know you'll be in a youth-adult partnership for the tenure of a youth team to make a plan of work and execute it. Even if it's hard to describe what exactly it will require, you have lots of past examples of what teams have done to follow or contrast.
Volunteers and Youth help build the 4-H program
One of the most open-ended and potentially very impactful roles available to 4-H volunteers is being a Director on the California 4-H Management Board. The Management Board exists as a way to let volunteers and youth build the 4-H program, with close relationships and support from state staff. The opportunity here is in the phrase "build the 4-H program." What exactly does that mean? That is up to the Directors, and right now it means:
- Running the California 4-H Youth Summits;
- Supporting area presentation days across the state;
- Providing excellent state-level leadership and youth-adult partnership opportunities in our teams and committees.
We are able to change or add projects over time, based on the maturity of those projects, number of people on our team, and the skills of those people.
We have committees in the form of Youth Summit planning teams, and an Area Presentation Days committee. Joining one of these committees is a great way to contribute at a level that requires less time.
The set of committees and Director positions on our team is flexible. We always have a three-person Executive Team and a Treasurer, and we currently have a Youth Summits Director, Area Presentation Days Director, and Marketing Director. If we find someone with the skills and enthusiasm for fundraising, for example, we could add a Fundraising Director who would work closely with the California 4-H Foundation.
Now, for the seven of us current Directors (and the many who came before us), why did we join the Management Board as Directors? We care about the 4-H program and we're overflowing with energy about making it awesome. Does that sound like you, too? If you'll be 16 or older next year (or an adult volunteer), apply to join us! Contact Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Apply to join us! Contact Curtis at email@example.com for details.
To read more about us, check out our Management Board webpage (our annual plan in particular), and read a summary of our last year of work. Want to meet us? All our business meetings are public. Join us in person or remotely using Zoom. Our webpage has details and agendas for all our meetings.
- Author: Jane Stahl
- Author: Mimi Powers
- Author: Tristan Davis
The Community Grants Fund is funded by a portion of the settlement between Pacific Gas & Electric Company and the City of San Bruno following a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that devastated San Bruno's Crestmoor neighborhood. This annual grant fund supports new and existing programs that benefit the San Bruno community. To fund the grants, the San Bruno Community Foundation combined $200,000 of its own funds with a $100,000 grant from YouTube and Google.org.
In this fourth year of the Community Grants Fund, the Board of Directors of the San Bruno Community Foundation approved grant awards totaling $300,000 to local community organizations for 29 programs, one of which was the San Bruno/South San Francisco 4-H Club.
Three 4-H club officers, President Tristan Davis, Vice President Alex Meyerhoff, and Treasurer Adam Zbriger, as well as club parents and volunteers, attended a Foundation meeting to thank them for their support. President Tristan Davis spoke to the board and expressed the gratitude of the entire club. “As president I am very thankful for the grant funding that will sustain the club's programs. After 12 years of membership I have learned countless life skills from participating in a variety of club projects. I am happy to know that younger members will also have this opportunity.”
The San Bruno/SSF 4-H Club was one of the recommended grantees selected from a competitive pool of 51 applications. The selection panel weighed the benefits of the proposed programs to the San Bruno community.
“We're so grateful to the Board for this award,” said Mimi Powers, co-community leader of the club. “It will be used to continue improving the San Bruno/SSF 4-H farm, give scholarships to youth to attend workshops and 4-H camp, enhance funding for projects, and, most importantly, keep 4-H affordable to families in our community.”
“It was very inspirational for us all to see the Board in action and witness how the city was able to turn such a catastrophic and sad event into something so positive for the community,” said 4-H volunteer Jane Stahl. “The list of recipients was amazing! Grants were awarded for cultural arts, exchange trips to Narita, Japan, scholarships for girls to attend a week-long STEM camp at Stanford, help for parents of special education children, relationship abuse, cyber bullying, combating homelessness, child development, mental health, and much, much more.”
For a complete list of recipients and more information on the San Bruno Community Foundation, go to https://www.sbcf.org/.
- Author: Donovan Hill
- Author: Kathleen Mowdy
In November 2018, the worst fire in California history, the Camp Fire, devastated the towns of Paradise, Magalia, Pulga, and Concow. Over 13,000 homes were destroyed and 85 people died. From the first day of the tragedy, our local Butte County 4-H members were involved in responding to this community crisis in many ways—such as caring for displaced animals, and donating food and shelter to affected families. Our team of two Oroville Foothill 4-H Club members, Opal and Donovan, and a Durham 4-H Club member, Skylar, decided to expand our work to address the psychological and emotional recovery of the fire survivors. The culmination of our work was captured in a video by 4-H Alum Spencer Hill (see video at bottom of article).
Three months before the fire, Opal had lost her home to an electrical fire. She felt strongly that her recovery began when she was able to work on a collaborative project to help others. Opal inspired us to have our project benefit the survivors of the Camp Fire, providing opportunities for survivors to join with other Butte County residents to connect as a community.
Donovan and Skylar are musicians and know the power of music to bring comfort and connection. Our team loved the idea of recruiting community members to work in small teams to build personalized wind chimes to be given as gifts of peaceful and healing music. In the Camp Fire, the wind spread the fire and caused destruction, but the forces of nature are also restorative. The sound of the wind blowing through the chimes is beautiful and soothing.
Woodstock Chimes generously donated 125 “Bells of Paradise” wind chimes to the project.
We developed a nomination process to choose the recipients of the wind chimes. We started with the members of the Pine Ridge 4-H Club from Paradise. Each person was asked to “pass on the gift” so the nominations would create a linked chain of connections through the community. We invited them to nominate their relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers, caregivers and first responders using an online form we created. Each nomination included a short story about the family, inspirational word charms to include, favorite color for bead selection, and the names of the family members to be written on the chime sail.
Again starting with 4-H, we held several “build events” with Butte County 4-H members and their families. We also arranged to bring the project to the after-school programs at Palermo Middle School in Palermo and Sycamore Middle School in Gridley. With the help of our 4-H adult volunteer leader, Wayne Hill, we facilitated team-building sessions with the students. We read the family stories shared by the nominators aloud. The students chose to build the chimes for the families that they connected with based on the stories. Reflecting on the stories of the recipients, the kids created unique and beautiful decorations on the envelopes for the gift cards that were included with the chimes. Many students added pictures and messages of hope and rebuilding.
All phases of this project have been eye-opening, but none as much as the giving phase. We met with recipients wherever they were - in Paradise, Oroville, Gridley, Chico, Magalia and beyond. We also involved many of the nominators. who appreciated the opportunity to deliver the gifts. An unexpected benefit of our project has been the excitement of the nominators, who were eager to assist us. Personally putting each gift into the hands of the recipient was the most rewarding part of the project. The emotions are overwhelming for everyone involved.
This project has done everything we hoped it would:
- We provided a way for our community to connect with people who experienced the most destructive wildfire in California history.
- With the help of Woodstock Chimes, we gave a gift of healing music to 125 families.
- We gave over 100 nominators a way to share a special gift with people they love.
- We provided a meaningful team-building experience to over 60 kids at local middle schools.
This project has changed each of us in ways we did not expect. We look forward to opportunities to share what we have learned with other 4-H clubs and fire recovery projects.
Video: 4-H Peaceful Music Wind Chime Project
At the Butte County 4-H Awards night on October 19, 2019, this original music video by Spencer Hill, a 4-H alum, was presented for this very special 4-H Emerald Star project benefiting the Camp Fire survivors.
- Author: Curtis Ullerich
The California 4-H Youth Summits are three-day leadership conferences held at four locations throughout the state. They are designed to grow the leadership abilities of intermediate 4-H members (ages 11-13) and give hands-on leadership opportunities to senior 4-H members (ages 14+). Details and registration are on the 4-H Youth Summit event site.
Tell me about the Youth Summit. What kinds of things will participants do and learn?
Raedyn: It's an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your passions. Thinking about that now can give you a leg up once you get to high school.
Casey: We'll have hikes, workshops with different guest speakers, sessions to learn leadership skills and ways of finding your passion.
Raedyn: They'll learn about communication, teamwork, the six Cs--
Curtis: --the sixties?
Casey: no, the six C's!
(The six C's are Competence, Confidence, Character, Caring, Connection, and Contribution.)
The theme for the Youth Summits this year is "ripples of today, waves of tomorrow." Tell me about that.
Raedyn: They'll learn how to advocate for themselves and the things they're passionate about. It'll help kids discover and delve into what they're excited about learning.
What'll they learn about advocacy?
Raedyn: They'll learn about understanding issues in the grand scheme of things but also on a personal level, so they can take it into their communities now or in the future. I know as a middle schooler you feel kinda like, with all these big issues "oh my gosh, well, I have to wait until I'm older to do something about that", but the thing is, they don't really have to wait. They can find ways to do things in their community to help out right now. I think that's important; that's one of the things we talk about in the planning meetings is making sure to keep it Big and Local.
Curtis: how do you keep something both big and local?
Raedyn: You talk about the big issue: This is what's going on overall, and these are some things you can do to help.
Curtis: Ah, so saying that you can make a difference without solving the whole problem.
What's the atmosphere at the Youth Summit going to be like?
Casey: It'll be a balance of learning and fun, like camp. There'll be times when you're listening and taking in information and there are times that are more interactive and doing things with others outside.
Raedyn: It's gonna have more variety than other leadership conferences because you'll have choices about which workshops to do. That ties into the fact that they're gonna be finding their passion, so if they find something that interests them they can do that instead of other courses that they might not enjoy as much.
The planning team is mostly 4-H youth. How does that impact what the event will be like?
Raedyn: It's fun planning a whole conference from the ground up. I've never done something that big. That seems pretty cool to me.
Casey: We're working with staff and adults from the Management Board. We get to choose what we focus on. We know what 4-H events are like and what we would want to do at a conference, so we try to keep it fun and learn about the things that are important to us.
I hear there's a session called the Leadership Lab. What's that going to be like?
Raedyn: It's a longer activity, more hands-on. It uses teamwork and gives everyone a chance to practice a leadership skill that's important to them. It's going to be very hands-on and engaging. We're trying to live up to last year, because the surveys were like "we love the leadership lab!" so we've gotta live up to that.
You can also attend the Youth Summit if you are 14 or older. What will their experience be like?
Casey: They're called facilitators, which is a lot like staff at other events. You attend, but you are helping out.
Raedyn: They'll make sure kids are on task, help them with activities. We'll assign some to be cabin heads, have them do head counts and stuff during breakfast, make sure everyone has eaten. We need people to help us execute what we're planning.
If I'm thinking about going but don't know someone else who's attending should I still sign up?
Raedyn: Along with educational sessions we're also gonna have recreation time and time for kids to socialize. They can make important connections by coming because they'll meet kids from all over the area.
Casey: Even if you don't know someone who's going you'll still meet people and make connections.
Raedyn: We're trying our best to make it a welcoming environment for everyone to meet new people.
More information about each summit is on the 4-H Youth Summit Event site.
- Author: Suzanne Morikawa
- Author: Nathan Chi
Towards the end of National 4-H Week this year, from October 11 to 14, our California 4-H Horticulture team competed at the 2019 National Junior Horticulture Association Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event took place at the Lincoln Marriott-Cornhusker Hotel, and consisted of 9 Teams and 143 individual registered attendees.
Their coach, Dr. Terry Berke, shared photos and their team results with us. The team members qualified at the Horticulture Contest at State Field Day in June. What a short time to practice together! Big thanks and kudos to Dr. Berke for bringing together a cohesive—and winning —team! We also want to thank two of our sponsors, Dean Memorial Legacy Fund and the Farm Credit Bureau, for their support to help our team participate in this national competition.
The team participated in a variety of workshops and tours to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Lauritzen Gardens. This biological park leads the nation's conservation efforts. It houses the world's largest indoor desert and the largest indoor rainforest in North America. Convention events included contests in horticultural demonstratinos, public and extemporaneous speaking, and horticulture judging and identification. They also had a photography exhibition and evaluation of projects in environmental awareness, experimental horticulture, and marketing.
The California 4-H team finished third overall in the competition. Nathan Chi (Santa Clara County) was the first place 4-H individual! All of the other team members also placed in this national competition: Hollie Schneider (San Joaquin County)-11th, Emily Wouts (Contra Costa County) -14th, and Collin Robinson-Burmester (Yolo County) -20th.
I was honored to represent the State of California as part of the 4-H State Horticulture Team at the 2019 National Junior Horticultural Association Convention in Lincoln. It was exciting for me to not only test my horticulture knowledge, but to also meet new people with similar interests and learn from experienced horticulturists on tours and workshops.
The convention is an opportunity for youth passionate about horticulture. Each year's highlight is the Horticulture Identification Contest, where we identify 100 different plant samples. We also answer 80 multiple choice questions (which can about many horticultural topics, ranging from turf to propagation) and complete a judging section, where we grade plants by quality and uniformity.
Every year, each team has a display highlighting the agricultural products of their home state. Our theme this year was citrus fruits since California is a major producer.
Dr. Berke coached our team and provided several 3-hour-long practice sessions for us throughout the summer. We also spent many hours studying on our own. I'm excited to say that our team finished 3rd in the Horticulture Identification contest and 3rd in the state display contest. I'm even more excited to say that I individually placed 1st in the Horticulture Identification contest!