- (Focus Area) 4-H
- Author: Michaela Beckman
- Author: Isabelle Cialone
- Author: Tejas Billa
- Author: Sanjana Badami
This April, five of us California 4-H'ers traveled to Washington D.C. for the 2023 National 4-H Conference. We even had a California 4-H'er, Ben Cederlof, on the USDA's 4-H Youth Leadership Team for the second year in a row! With a focus on civic engagement and leadership, we participated in roundtables to create briefings for federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and met with our Congress people to discuss support for 4-H at a federal level. We had opportunities to see historic sites and monuments, as well as to meet and engage with 4-H'ers from so many other states and US territories.
It was an incredible experience for all of us to be able to learn more about the 4-H experience of other youths, as well as to be able to share our own stories. We all encourage 4-H'ers in California to consider applying to be a part of future National Conference delegations, as this was something we will never forget!
My name is Michaela and I had the opportunity to be a part of the California delegation to the National 4-H Conference this year! It was my first time traveling to the east coast, and it was absolutely incredible to meet so many people from every corner of our country in one place. We had a state pin exchange on the first day where we even managed to trade with Alaska 4-H!
A highlight of the trip for me was meeting my Congresswoman, Katie Porter. We discussed support for 4-H through the Farm Bill, and had an amazing meeting with her. It was incredible to see how our efforts led her to advocate for 4-H on the House floor a month later. (Watch the video here!)
I even got to meet a cabinet member, Secretary Marcia Fudge of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and presented a briefing to her staff about how HUD-assisted youth can be helped to gain more financial education, though it technically didn't have much to do with civic engagement or leadership. Learning line dances from the other 4-H'ers was pretty cool too!
Hi! My name is Isabelle, and I was a part of the California National 4-H Conference delegation. My roundtable (shoutout roundtable 17!) was focused on the Department of Labor and youth workforce and education re-entry programs. My favorite part of the conference (aside from learning a bunch of line dances) was getting to see the city of D.C. and exploring the different landmarks, both with the whole group during the night tour and with my delegation. During the night tour, we played Presidential Trivia and I answered three out of five questions correctly! I was surprised by how much I knew about presidents. My favorite monument was the Washington Monument, because it looked really pretty with the sky, like you can see in the picture. It was also a fun challenge to try to collect pins from as many states as possible!
My name is Tejas, and I loved my experience as a National Conference Delegate for California 4-H. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to provide a youth voice on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Energy, where I presented my youth roundtable. My favorite parts were meeting with our legislators at the Capitol and exploring the city with our delegation. Our roundtable group from all across America put tons of hard work into researching our topic, nuclear energy marketing, and presenting our briefing to staff at the Department's headquarters. Additionally, we all scheduled meetings with our politicians in D.C. to advocate for more funding for 4-H through the Farm Bill. I got a coveted selfie with Senator Alex Padilla! One of my favorite experiences was also getting a library card from the Library of Congress. National 4-H Conference was the single best opportunity I've had to expand on my passion for civic engagement, and I highly recommend attending!
Hi, I'm Sanjana! Being a part of the California 4-H National Conference Delegation has been an incredible, and also rewarding experience. My favorite part of the National 4-H Conference was exploring D.C. and line dancing with the California delegation. It was also great to make 4-H friends from all across the United States, and I'm so glad to still be in touch with my roundtable friends! My roundtable focused on creating a presentation on ensuring success in various career pathways, which we presented to the Department of Education in D.C. It was great to listen to new perspectives and get to know one another. Not only did we engage in roundtables, but we also did community service at the United States National Arboretum! While our delegation was there, we went on a scenic tour and learned about the types of plant species there and their history. We explored the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns, and various gardens as well.
Hi, I'm Rachel from Santa Barbara County! At the 4-H National Conference, I had the chance to present a presentation on Mental Health needs in rural communities to lawmakers and facilitate the discussion of the importance of mental health initiatives.
Through research with my workshop group, I learned how mental health is a serious issue in rural America. According to the National Rural Health Association, rural Americans are more likely to experience mental health problems than their urban counterparts. They are also less likely to have access to mental health care. Our goal in meeting with lawmakers was to raise awareness of this issue and to urge them to support mental health programs in rural communities. We shared statistics and personal stories about the struggles faced by rural Americans. We also provided ideas for initiatives and efforts that would help with this problem.
Speaking before the House Committee on Agriculture was nerve-wracking yet empowering. It was an honor to represent California 4-H and to advocate for mental health awareness. Leaving D.C., I felt a sense of accomplishment as I not only felt successful in creating a powerful presentation, but also felt successful in creating new memories and friendships.
Registration is now open for the 2024 National 4-H Conference
Don't miss your chance to make your own memories and life-long friendships. The 2024 National 4-H Conference is April 19-24 in Arlington, Virginia. All expenses are paid through a grant from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
Go to our event page to see all the requirements to apply and get started. This is an opportunity for you to meet 4-H'ers from across the country and have your voice heard by top government agencies. Applications and references are due by 5:00 pm, November 30, 2023.
- Author: Mike Hsu
Between 4th and 8th grade, Brent Hales had acquired from those years in 4-H a lifetime's worth of skills, a group of lifelong friends, an expanded perspective on the world – and the track suit of his dreams.
The middle child of seven kids, young Brent knew his family couldn't afford to buy a track suit off the rack. So he saved up money, bought the Navy blue fabric and pattern, and took on sewing as one of his many 4-H projects during the 1980s. Just one problem: he ended up making it inside-out, with the fuzzy side facing outward.
“And then, by the time I actually completed it, I had outgrown it, so I gave it to my younger brother,” Hales recalled with a laugh.
Hales still enjoys sewing, although he rarely finds time for it, given his many duties as UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' associate vice president for research and Cooperative Extension.
One of his responsibilities is helping to oversee the 4-H program in California, which, along with its counterparts across the country, is celebrating National 4-H Week Oct. 1–7. In a recent interview, Hales shared some of his favorite experiences as a 4-H club member growing up in Aurora, Utah, as well as some of the enduring impacts from his participation.
The mere mention of 4-H must bring back a torrent of memories, images and stories. Can you share one experience that stands out for you?
At the end of the summers, the leader of our horse club, Dan Thompson, would take us on a weeklong horse ride. In order to qualify, you had to demonstrate horsemanship, you had to be able to take care of your horse, and show a certain amount of leadership.
Dan had the kids take the lead; he planned the route but then he would ride in the back. Each day of the horse ride, we would take turns at various aspects of leadership within the week. We would get to a point and we would discuss where we were going; we would discuss points along the trail that we needed to be looking for. But, invariably, all with him in the back, allowing us to lead. He wanted us to lead the whole thing.
You could imagine sending a group of 11-, 12-, 13-year-old kids on a weeklong horse ride with a guy would be daunting enough. But the most important thing you need to understand is the amount of trust that we had in him, he had in us, and our parents had in him – because Dan was blind.
He had gone blind late in life. He knew the trails well enough that he could describe what we were going to see, and he could describe where we were going to stay, but he left it up to us to share information and lead.
You think about the types of skills that it taught us – I have cold chills thinking about that – and the confidence that it instilled in us was so powerful. In a community where less than half of the kids went on to a four-year degree program, all 11 of us in the horse club completed four-year degrees, and all of us are continuing to be very successful.
In addition to leadership skills, public-speaking skills, sewing skills and horsemanship…what else did 4-H teach you?
We actually got involved quite a bit in the arts – the visual arts, the performing arts. Because of that, I went to college on a vocal performance scholarship, which I tie right back to 4-H.
We put on an annual musical at the county fair, which translated to being involved in musicals at school and other performing groups. It paved the way for me to go to a much better school than probably was in my academic trajectory otherwise, so I went to BYU as an undergrad.
I realized very quickly how out-classed I was in terms of the vocal performance and ultimately changed majors – but I stayed involved and had the opportunity to do quite a bit of traveling and touring with various musical groups. In the last three years, I've sang at both Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, as part of ensembles and groups. What a long tail my 4-H involvement has had, in encouraging my love of music and of performing!
In what other ways did 4-H shape who you are today, personally and in your career trajectory?
My hometown of Aurora was settled by my fourth great-grandfather, so I was actually related to about 85% of that small town. And so I had a very myopic view of what the world looked like.
What 4-H did was it showed me that there's a much larger world out there. Because of 4-H, I engaged with different kids from different backgrounds, different ideologies, different life expectations than that of my own. And it opened a world I never knew existed, number one, and that I had a place in that world.
So the thought of moving from my safe, rural community…when I was a little kid, that was the last thing that I wanted. But after engaging with kids from not just across Utah, not just across the country, but across the world, it created a hunger in me to learn and to know and to experience. And that has yet to be satisfied!
Every time I remember and relive my 4-H years, I'm reminded of why I do this job – to enable others, perhaps, to be that kid that I was, and see beyond what their worldview is, or the limitations of their culture, identity and hometown.
On top of your 4-H role as a part of the leadership team at UC ANR, you're also on the strategic planning board for the national 4-H organization. How has 4-H continued to evolve over the years?
With COVID, when I was at Penn State, we shifted online and we saw a whole new generation of kids who would not have ever joined 4-H as a result. We created statewide programs, instead of the traditional clubs, and that brought together kids who normally would not have been drawn to it. And instead of meeting face-to-face, we met virtually and we sent out activity boxes ahead of time. Then, post-COVID, what surprised us is that the online clubs – the clubs we kind of anticipated going away – those actually continued to grow.
So how we reach the kids has evolved as much as the type of kids that we are seeing come in. And it has had to – if we marketed 4-H to an ever-shrinking rural population of on-farm kids, it would quickly become irrelevant. And so the way we market to them, the way we bring them in, the way we encourage and facilitate discussion, the way topics and areas of interest are identified – those continue to evolve and I hope will drive the next iteration of what 4-H looks like. Because it doesn't look anything like what I grew up with – granted, that was a long time ago, over 40 years ago! And I would say in 10 years 4-H probably won't look like what it looks like now. And that's a good thing./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
National 4-H Council today (Sept. 29, 2023) announced that Michaela Auyeung of Los Gatos, is a runner-up for the 2024 4-H Youth in Action Award. Auyeung is recognized nationally for her commitment to providing STEM access and improving mental and physical well-being for girls in her community.
Auyeung, 17, provides free coding classes and instruction to girls through her program, Girls Who Love to Code. Through partnerships with two school systems, Girls Who Love to Code has engaged more than 250 girls while seeking to close the opportunity and education gap for girls in STEM. Auyeung also provided mental health workshops to aid students in addressing anxiety and created two school pantries to provide hygiene items, school supplies, and snacks to students in need. A senior in high school, Auyeung plans to continue to advocate for gender and socioeconomic equality in education through her outreach and beyond.
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H'ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. To learn more about the 4-H Youth in Action program and the 2024 runners-up, please visit http://4-H.org/YouthInAction.
4-H, the nation's largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation's Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H. To learn more about the California 4-H Program, visit: https://4h.ucanr.edu/.
- Author: Mike Hsu
Planning brochure for pets, livestock fills crucial need as fires an increasing threat
With the McKinney Fire creeping closer to Yreka in the summer of 2022, Emily Jackson and her mother potentially faced the enormous task of getting all their goats, chickens, dogs and cats to safety – while Emily's father and twin sister Lindsay were away fighting the fires.
Fortunately, Emily and Lindsay had gained crucial knowledge about evacuating animals through a 4-H service-learning project they helped lead in 2018. A group of eight 4-H youths, ages 14 to 18, had created a “Pet Emergency Evacuation Plan” (PEEP) brochure, aimed at educating their neighbors in Siskiyou County about the necessary preparations for livestock and pets.
The brochure, available through the Siskiyou County website, remains in use today in this densely forested region that saw another spate of wildfires this summer. The PEEP project team was composed of Kylie Daws, Emily Jackson, Lindsay Jackson, Will Morris, Madison Restine, Maryssa Rodriguez, Emily Smith and Callahan Zediker.
Within those stressful hours in 2022 when the McKinney Fire prompted an evacuation warning during which residents could be required to leave at any moment, Emily Jackson said she and her mother had a game plan in place – thanks to her work on the PEEP project.
“At the time, it wasn't even on my mind,” Jackson said, “but looking back now, I know that having the experience from making that brochure was driving my thought process at the time.”
And while the Jackson family and their neighbors ultimately were not asked to evacuate in 2022, many community members have benefited from the hundreds of copies of the PEEP brochure in circulation, which prompts residents to at least think about what their animals would need in an emergency, Jackson said.
Pet and livestock evacuation tips were needed
Such a resource previously had not been available among the county's emergency preparation materials, according to Jacki Zediker, the 4-H regional program coordinator in Siskiyou County who advised the PEEP project group.
“One piece that was missing was how to help our communities understand that when they evacuate, and they take their pets with them…it's not as simple as just taking their pets with them,” said Zediker, citing the example that some shelters do not take in animals – or do not take animals without proof of vaccination.
Other items to add to the pet's emergency kit include food for several days, water, medications, comfort items or toys, and recent photos of the owner with their animal (proof of ownership).
Zediker had connected the young people with Jodi Aceves, senior deputy agriculture commissioner/sealer for Siskiyou County, who had been overseeing the county's Animal Control programs and emergency response.
“There's a lot of information out there for people evacuating, but not necessarily for livestock and pets,” Aceves said. “Unfortunately, we have had some fires where there were lots of pets and livestock lost.”
She met several times with the 4-H group, discussing the county's evacuation systems and processes and the role of the Office of Emergency Services and law enforcement agencies, and sharing key considerations in preparing for emergencies – such as having a pre-agreement in place with someone who could house an evacuee's animals.
Aceves praised the teens for distilling the vital information into a short and simple brochure that community members could easily read and remember. She also was impressed by the energy and genuine care that the young people put into the project.
“Most of their lives, every summer, they've been in fire,” Aceves said. “It's close to their hearts, and they've seen a lot of their neighbors and other people in the county either affected by fire or evacuated at some point.”
For Lindsay Jackson, in particular, fire and serving the community have been lifelong passions, inspired by her father's work in the area.
“My dad was a volunteer fire chief for the South Yreka Fire Department; he was doing that since I was about two or three, so I grew up watching him go to the trainings, go to a call,” she explained. “When I was 15, I joined the fire department as a cadet to help out with the medical side, but the more I volunteered, I really liked the fire side, too.”
Jackson added that Zediker has a special knack for nurturing and encouraging the interests of the 4-H participants and applying them in a productive way.
“Jacki was really good at figuring out where our passions were and then how we could put our passions into a service-learning project,” she said. “She knew I was really big into fire and helping the community in that way since I was young.”
Zediker also helped the Jackson twins on their senior project, a fire-safety field day at the South Yreka fire station. More than 100 schoolchildren learned fire safety basics, met firefighters and emergency personnel, and heard about 4-H from Lindsay and Emily.
4-H experiences, mentorship inspire career paths
The PEEP project group also was asked by several organizations to share their knowledge about emergency preparations for animals. In addition to presenting a poster about their work at the 4-H California Focus conference in 2018, the group handed out the brochure and shared information at a table during a Juniper Flat Fire Safe Council workshop and resource fair.
Beyond distributing the PEEP brochure at 4-H club meetings, school events and community meetings, the youths have lent their voices to advocating for emergency resources for animals. Zediker noted that they contributed testimonials that helped the county acquire grants for purchasing more portable kennels.
But the most enduring impact of 4-H participation and community service, however, is that those experiences were a springboard for the young adults' careers. Emily Jackson – who participated in 4-H from age 5 to 19 – is now working toward a master's degree in biology at Cal Poly Humboldt, studying how fire suppression and other factors have changed plant communities in the Russian Wilderness.
Whether training colleagues as a U.S. Forest Service crew lead for the past couple of summers, or leading lab sections in general botany as a graduate student, Jackson said she draws on her 4-H experiences – and Zediker's inspirational example – as she pursues a career in teaching.
“In my development as a young adult into an adult now, I cannot overstate how big of a role Jacki played in that,” Jackson said.
Her sister Lindsay, meanwhile, has pursued her passion for fire all the way through the fire academy at College of the Siskiyous, where she also earned her emergency medical technician (EMT) license. Most recently working on fires near Pondosa in Siskiyou County, Jackson has been a seasonal firefighter based at the McCloud CAL FIRE station since 2020.
“It's hard because, in the last three years, I haven't left Siskiyou County, there's just been so many fires here,” she said. “But it's nice being able to help your community and know you're making a difference.”
Lindsay Jackson intends to pursue a bachelor's degree in leadership studies at Cal Poly Humboldt in hopes of getting a full-time position with CAL FIRE./h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Brent Hales
Happy Monday all,
I have had the pleasure of visiting numerous Research Extension Centers (South Coast, Hopland, Sierra Foothills, Intermountain, West Side, Lindcove, and Kearney). I have also visited UC Irvine, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley. I soon will visit UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. I have engaged with hundreds of ANR employees, campus-based faculty, specialists, and administration, and many stakeholders. My main takeaway throughout these visits is that UC ANR is truly an amazing organization!
As I have had the pleasure of getting to know everyone, I have consistently been amazed with the people, the organizations, and the programs that are all things UC ANR. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you and I look forward to meeting you and learning from you.
My goal has been and continues to be to improve what we do and how we do it. That only comes as we work together to improve our organization and the communities that we serve. If there is an opportunity to engage with you in your programming or if there is an event that you think it would be good for me to attend, please invite me. I won't likely be able to get to everything this year but my engagement with everyone does not have an expiration date. I genuinely want to hear from you and learn from you.
I promise to take more pictures and use less text in the future. I just had to say this. I am eager to meet you and meet with you. I hope that you know that I am so grateful for what you do to improve the lives of Californians throughout our amazing state. I wish you truly the best!