- Author: Olivia Berman
In these times of crisis and need, I know from personal experience that the first thing that I as a 4-H'er want to do is help those around me. I found that making masks was the way to accomplish this. With the help of my mom, I gained a new skill in sewing and put this to use by making masks. These masks were donated to local hospitals for the workers helping in these times!
In our 4-H pledge, we state that we will not only pledge our head to clearer thinking, but also our hands to larger service. For me, I started making masks and encouraging others to do the same because I knew my community needed me.
~ Olivia, 4-H Santa Barbara County Ambassador
- 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: Maura Sparrevohn
Hello, my name is Maura Sparrevohn, and I was a California 4-H State Ambassador for the 2018-2019 program year. This last April, I was selected to attend the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. If it wasn't for the scholarship from Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, I might never have been able to attend this conference, or connect with 4-H youth from outside of California. As someone who had never before been outside of California's borders, having the opportunity to experience a whole new place—brimming with people I never would have met otherwise—was an amazing experience.
National 4-H Conference: Roundtable on Adolescent Mental Health
During this near week-long conference, I had the opportunity to collaborate with 4-H youth from across the country on a roundtable group focusing on the mental health of adolescence in the United States. We were then able to present to the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) under the National Organization for Health and Human Services. Through this presentation, our team of diverse youth was able to voice our own concerns regarding the state of mental health in our peers. We were also able to provide the OAH with our own suggestions to combat the issue of stigma surrounding mental illness among American youth.
Invited to Collaborate on Social Media and Mental Health
Early this summer, and because of my involvement with the HHS, I was invited back to D.C., where I shared my perspective on how social media affects the mental health of my peers. I was one of 6 youth respondents selected from the U.S. to participate in this meeting organized by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs.
Through this once in a lifetime opportunity, I collaborated alongside Candice Odgers and Jean Twenge, both top researchers in their respective fields of psychology, to compare their findings to my own experiences with social media usage and how it relates to my own mental health as well as that of other youth who use social media. I was able to share my perspective on how the state of your mental health can be reflected through your personal social media usage. By practicing intentional social media usage and mindful habits, you can make positive impacts on yourself and others while connecting to your individuality. I also see it as a creative outlet that can connect individuals and provide all sorts of resources to provide connectedness, education, and opportunities to promote positive change for anything you may be passionate about.
Co-hosting a live Twitter Chat
Following my engagement in this meeting, the group of youth was asked to collaborate even further to propose a way to share what we had learned with others in our communities. We decided that the best way to share our knowledge of intentional social media use was taking to social media in a live and interactive way. On August 14th, we partnered with #ICanHelp and youth.gov to host a live Twitter Chat. Questions and tips were posted while Twitter users engaged and shared their perspective. Participants were able to interact with one another while sharing knowledge on how to be more mindful and intentional with how they use social media! For anyone interested in the postings, or reading what participants had to say, check out #mindfulsocialchat on Twitter!
Take the leap!
The skills I have gained and the connections I have made after initially going to National Conference have impacted my life in such a positive way. I was someone who was very nervous about flying all the way to the other side of the country, but I am so glad I did. I encourage other 4-Hers who may feel the same way to take the leap and apply for National Conference 2020. The experience is one that I know I will continue to positively reflect on, and I hope the same for all of you!
Apply by November 5, 2019
National 4-H Conference 2020
March 28- April 4, 2020
See the National 4-H Conference event page for more information and to apply.
- Author: Elizabeth Sugarman
We are having a great time in D.C. celebrating Margaret “Sissy"Sugarman from Olivenhain Valley 4-H, earning the Congressional Award Gold Medal. Congressman Mike Levin presented her with the Gold Medal in a medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
The Congressional Award
The Congressional award is the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian recognizing achievement, initiative and service in America's youth, ages 14-23. The Award provides a unique opportunity for young people to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development, and citizenship. To earn a Congressional Award, participants set and achieve individual goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.
Recognizing that children in her community are disconnected from animals, agriculture, and nature, Margaret “Sissy” Sugarman organized and led tours and classes at her farm and at local schools promoting agriculture, beekeeping, and connection with animals. Her pollinator education program, “The Honeybee Road Show,” earned national recognition from the American Agri-Women Foundation. Sissy also served at a Veteran's camp in Alaska, Camp Battle Dawgs, which uses sled dogs and other outdoor activities to help veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries reintegrate back into every day life. Currently, Sissy is connecting people to animals and agriculture by hosting veteran groups, disabled adults and youth groups for free Goat Yoga classes at her family farm in Olivenhain.
Sissy was furthered recognized as a "STEM Star"
Senator Ron Wyden presented Sugarman with the added distinction of being a S.T.E.M. Star for her Honey Bee Road Show initiative. Ray Kerins from Bayer, a national 4-H partner, presented her with her STEM Star achievement pin.
The Honey Bee Road Show is a program Sissy developed after growing up learning about bees in 4-H. Sissy had cared for her bees on her family farm and found them to be a source of endless fascination. She has hosted hundreds of groups of children on tours to her family farm and was always surprised to encounter children who were afraid of bees or had no appreciation for bees. Sissy created the Honey Bee Road Show as a way to teach schoolchildren about bees and their vital role in our world. Bees are our #1 pollinator and they need our help!
Sissy took her program to elementary schools and did many presentations at the Encinitas Farm Lab, which is an ecology center run by our local school district. Sissy taught the children all about the inner workings of the beehive and invited children from the audience to join in her presentation in a starring role by acting out the different roles of the honey bees.
“Children are so eager to make a connection with animals. Being a part of that joy and discovery is absolutely magical.” ~Sissy Sugarman
The model of leadership, service, and giving back to the community that Sissy learned from her selfless 4-H leaders was the inspiration for her program.
Sissy's 4-H skills came in handy. Of course, she learned so much about bees in her beekeeping project, but her years in the sewing project came in handy as she crafted and sewed costumes for the children to wear in their bee hive skit. And all those years of presentations and demonstrations paid off, as her public speaking skills were vital to holding the attention of 60 2nd graders at each presentation!
Sissy plans to continue her program locally and hopefully take what she has learned to Africa in the near future. She hopes to intern in a program called Elephants and Bees which would combine her experience with pollinator education with her passion for elephant conservation. You can learn more about that at http://elephantsandbees.com/
Sissy's community service work and links to news articles highlighting her work can be found at: http://www.sugarsweetfarm.com/community-service.html
- Author: Jenna Colburn
The past few years California and the nation have faced devastating natural disasters. When we see images of devastation and loss on the news and Internet our first instinct is to mobilize, organize, and help those that are in need.
In the past week California has been hit hard again with wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Currently the brave first responders are still fighting to contain those fires.
Recovery from a catastrophic loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
After the fires are out, there will be a long road to recovery. Fire survivors may go back to survey their properties, but on top of insurance claims and rebuilding decisions, they have to address their immediate needs for shelter. Survivors will need support throughout the long process.
As noted in a Sacramento Bee article, thirteen months ago fires in Sonoma County destroyed about 5,300 homes, including about 2,000 in unincorporated Santa Rosa. Since then, only 598 permits have been issued to rebuild single family homes and only around 30 homes have been rebuilt in the unincorporated areas.
What you can do to help
Map out a plan
If you collect 1000 blankets, who will you give them to and how will you get them where they need to be? Are blankets what are really needed? The only way to answer these questions is to have a good plan with plenty of support in place BEFORE you start your project. This will ensure that your efforts to make a difference will be successful and sustainable.
Contact organizations that are able to accept goods BEFORE you start collecting items. Organizations have different needs at different times during disaster recovery efforts. Unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, household items, and mixed foodstuff require agencies to redirect their valuable resources away from providing relief services. They will have to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not even meet the needs of disaster survivors.
Find reputable local organizations to support
The best way to help in disaster areas is to support relief organizations that are already established in the area.
Some ways to verify relief organizations:
- Give.org- the BBB Wise Giving Alliance
- The State Of California has vetted both volunteer opportunities and organizations that are supporting relief efforts. CaliforniaVolunteers is the state office that manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service and volunteering. Their Current Disasters webpage links to resources for current information on disaster areas in California.
As an individual, you can make personal monetary donations to organizations to support relief efforts.
There are many organizations that are accepting cash donations. The Golden Valley Bank Foundation has set up a fund to directly support 4-H, FFA and Grange members and their families affected by the Camp Fire.
Know our 4-H policy on fundraising and donating to non-profit organizations.
4-H clubs cannot donate cash or fundraise for other non-profit organizations. Please familiarize yourself with the following documents for more clarification:
- Guidelines for Fundraising by 4-H Units and VMOs to Benefit Groups or Organizations
- FAQs for 4-H Units & VMOs - Fundraising to Benefit Groups or Organizations
Create a sustainable Service Learning Project to support disaster relief
With a Service Learning Project, you will participate in the development of community partnerships and share responsibility with community members. You will also take an active role in improving society and improving the quality of life in the community.
Our own 4-H clubs have helped with fire recovery efforts.
Oroville Foothill 4-H Club's fire recovery project was shared in a blog post by 4-H member Donovan Hill.
Use the Service Learning Toolkit and Project Planning Guide
Evaluate your plan to ensure it is High Service/High Learning using the Standards of Quality in Service Learning. This 10 question checklist will help you determine how to make this a positive learning experience that benefits the community at the same time.
This original blog post from 9/1/17 was updated and edited to include current information. Jenna Colburn is the Program Coordinator for Civic Engagement. If you have any questions regarding creating a service learning project, please contact Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org.