Tennessee 4-H’ers perform 100 hours of volunteer service in centennial year

Tennessee 4-H’ers pledge “their hands to larger service.”

Boy, do they really mean it. And then some. Literally hundreds of hours worth.

2010 is the 100th year of Tennessee 4-H, and to mark the Centennial 4-H’ers will perform 100 hours of volunteer service in towns and counties statewide. That includes planting trees, visiting the elderly in assisted living facilities, and collecting for food banks and clothing centers. It also involves work in a worldwide humanitarian effort.

4-H leaders say service comes second nature to many youth involved in the program, and is a way to stay connected to the needs of others. “Last year 4-H’ers statewide performed more than 100,000 hours of service at an estimated value of 1.8 million dollars to the state’s economy,” says Steve Sutton, Director of Tennessee 4-H Youth Development. “Service opportunities are an important component of the 4-H program.”

“In 4-H, we want to instill in our young people a sense of civic engagement,” says Justin Crowe of Tennessee 4-H Youth Development.”We want to give them an opportunity to give back to their communities - communities that have been awfully good to them.”

Jaclyn Torrento is a senior at Greenbrier High School in Robertson County, and has been involved with a number of service projects in her years with 4-H. “For me, it’s really taught me to appreciate the people of my community, and to appreciate all I have in life,” she says.

One of the projects Jaclyn and Robertson County 4-H’ers will work on this Centennial is to collect for victims of the earthquake in Haiti. In fact, they’ve already done quite a bit of work here. The Robertson County 4-H Goat Club recently collected items and money at a table stationed at the J.R. Food Mart in Springfield. The group sorted and boxed all donations over a two-week period, and the items were then shipped as part of the “Hope 4 Haiti” campaign.

“They collected more than $400 in cash and they also collected almost $1,500 in goods - products that children could use like clothing, baby formula, diapers, and all kinds of things that could be sent to Haiti,” says Kathy Finley, 4-H Agent in Robertson County.

4-H’ers attending the upcoming 4-H Congress in Nashville are also urged to collect money for Haiti - with each county having a goal of raising at least $100.

4-H’ers at Congress will also collect items for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to benefit families requiring an overnight stay at the facility. Many families arrive in such a rush that they do not bring basic toiletries. Tennessee 4-H’ers will bring soap, shampoo, toothpaste, lip balm and other items to Congress. As part of the Centennial, each county has a goal of collecting 100 items.

This is the 63rd year for 4-H Congress. Nearly 400 9th and 10th graders from across the state will converge on the State Capitol in Nashville March 28 - 31. They will have the opportunity to debate and vote on youth-oriented bills in the Senate and House chambers, to compete in contests such as public speaking and essay writing, and to tour the area and learn more about our government.

“We want young people to understand the legislative process, and completely understand where they fit in” says Crowe.

As part of the Centennial, the state 4-H office is looking to re-connect with past 4-H’ers.

If your heart bleeds green and you are a former 4-H’er, please call 865-974-7141 and let us know your postal and email addresses and phone number. You can also email jcrowe3@utk.edu

4-H is the youth development program for UT Extension. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 300,000 youth in grades 4-12. 4-H also has more than 18,000 adult volunteers statewide.

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