The Kansas 4-H organization experienced budget cuts in the last few years, according to officials, and began a process to keep the youth organization going and growing.
Kansas 4-H implemented a “4-H Program Fee” effective October 2017. This is new since the 4-H organization has traditionally been free for participants.
“Many states have already implemented this type of fee – including Missouri and Oklahoma,” Carla Nemecek, K-State Southwind District Director and Agent said.
The organization gathered input on how to stabilize funding and grow the 4-H program, according to Wade Weber, Kansas State University’s 4-H Youth Development Department Head and State Program Leader.
“We hosted discussions as well as conducted a survey to gain feedback on program impact within K-State Research and Extension,” Weber said. “A task force of eight extension agents was formed to review all information and develop recommendations on how to move forward.”
The task force worked to provide a means to ensure a steady funding stream to grow the 4-H program, Weber said.
The task force members were Candis Meerpohl from Shawnee County, Monica Thayer from the River Valley District, Michelle Beran from Midway District, Melinda Daily from the Sunflower District, Allen Baker from Wichita County, Nancy Honig from Stevens County, Jodi Besthorn from Sedgwick County
and Brian Swisher from the Wildcat District, according to links provided.
A recommendation from this task force was to implement an annual 4-H program fee of $15 per member, beginning October 2, 2017.
“Funds from the 4-H Program fee are placed in a restricted funds account available for use only by the Kansas 4-H Youth Development Department,” according to Weber.
“Funds generated will strengthen our program priorities of volunteer development, project support, and program enhancement,” Weber said.
“K-State Research and Extension had to face several budget cuts over the past couple of years, and this would seem to be an option to help fund Kansas 4-H on a State level.” Carla Nemecek, Southwind District director, and an agent said. ” The Southwind District will not receive any financial benefit, as 100 percent of the program fee is directed to the State 4-H Program.”
Southwind District encompasses Allen, Bourbon and Neosho Counties.
“Some counties were fortunate to have found donors who are offsetting the cost, but we do not know how long those donations will last,” Nemecek said.
“As a 4-H parent and Director for the Southwind District, I am sympathetic to those who are upset about the fee,” Nemecek said. “Kansas 4-H has always been free for anyone to join, so this is taking us down a path we have never been.”
A provision has been made for those for whom it would be a hardship to pay the $15 per child program fee, she said.
“There is a waiver process for those families or individuals who are not able to pay the fee,” Nemecek said.
Message from Weber on benefits for local 4-H programs:
In January Dr. John Floros, Kansas State’s College of Agriculture Dean presented highlights of 4-H Youth Development efforts in the last 12 months to a joint meeting of state senators and representatives.
Also in January, Dr. Floros, Dr. Greg Hadley, Associate Director of Extension and Applied Research and Weber conducted meetings with local leaders to tell of the progress made.
These findings are what they reported, according to Weber:
“Examples of National and State 4-H Funding Efforts Benefitting Local 4-H Programs:
• Kansas 4-H Foundation Expansion Grant – 2017 marked the conclusion of a five-year effort to expand 4-H youth and volunteer participation in 14 extension units. This effort resulted in an increase of 458 4-H volunteers. Evaluation data has been collected from the units and a framework for growing 4-H will be created based on the learning experiences of those involved and will be shared with local units for implementation.
• National 4-H Council Ag Innovators Experience– 2018 will feature 4-H teen leaders in the Cottonwood District reaching area youth with the “Monarchs on the Move Challenge.”
• National 4-H Council Youth Futures: College Within Reach Grant–The focus of this grant is on providing mentoring partnerships to underserved youth in Seward (2017) and Riley (2018) counties. Program results in reaching new audiences will be shared statewide for local unit implementation.
• National 4-H Council Science Matters Grant – Johnson County (2018) is currently collaborating with Bayer to inspire young people to become tomorrow’s science leaders. Program results will be shared statewide for local unit implementation.
Kansas 4-H Youth Development Program Fee Prioritization Survey
• When: Conducted October 19 – November 15, 2017 by the K-State Office of Planning and Analysis
• Who: 612 Respondents statewide: 67% were volunteers or parents
• What: Received input within the following program priorities:
1) Project support and enhancements (i.e. principles of engaged learning, communicate and connect learning opportunities, updating/refreshing existing project materials)
2) Volunteer Development (training materials and support for volunteers; tools for recruitment, growth, evaluation and accountability)
3) Program enhancements benefiting community clubs (including but not limited to updating and refreshing tools for use with youth and volunteer audiences)
4) Foundational Supports (accessibility to all Kansas youth, campus/community partnerships and improved marketing at statewide events, and promotional materials that can be used by local units)
Fast Enrollment Stats 2016-17
•74,837 Kansas 4-H Youth Impact: This includes all delivery modes and has had duplications removed.
• 17,796 4-H Community based Club Enrollment: This includes Cloverbuds (ages 5-6) who are enrolled through a Community Club.
Dean Floros and Dr. Hadley provided the ability for the 4-H Youth Development program to hire a statewide volunteer development specialist while facing increasing budget challenges. This act affirmed the strategic support from administration to assist the 4-H youth development program in growing and modernizing.
Starting on Feb. 5, Shane Potter, New Volunteer Specialist, is tasked with refining the volunteer development process to ensure safe learning environments for youth and grow local 4-H volunteer capacity beyond the 6,000 existing adult 4-H volunteers statewide.”