West Virginia University’s 4-H program is no stranger to community outreach – that is why the club has been recognized as the 2011 National Collegiate 4-H Club of the Year, the highest honor the club can receive.

The club was recognized earlier this month at the National Collegiate 4-H Club conference in Atlanta, Ga. West Virginia had one of the largest delegations in attendance with 18 students.

“We are very excited about receiving this,” said Alex Coffman, club president and senior history major from Grafton. “We have all worked very hard and are dedicated to the program. We are really excited to represent WVU and all of West Virginia’s 4-H programs.”

More than 50 WVU students are participants in the collegiate 4-H club. The participants regularly perform community service at the Bartlett House homeless shelter in Morgantown, make cards for local nursing homes and help out at 4-H camps around the state. The club also holds a variety of social activities including pot lucks, movie nights and formals.

In October, the club hosted the Northeast Regional Collegiate 4-H Conference.

Many of the students that participate in the program have been 4-H members since they were in grade school. The program allows participants to be active members from age 9 to 21. Once participants enter the collegiate level, they are able to continue in a variety of leadership positions.

“It is such a neat program. It has helped me develop everything from organizational to social skills,” Coffman said. “It has enhanced my public speaking skills and given me a lot of community service. It is a well-rounded organization to be in.”

Nationally, 4-H youth development programs have been around for more than 100 years. The purpose of the program is to help the nation’s youth and their families develop the skills they need to be proactive in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative economy.

WVU’s Extension Service oversees 4-H programs around the state, including the one at WVU.

“4-H is a great organization for our youth to be a part of,” said Becca Fint-Clark, WVU extension agent and co-advisor with her husband, Brent, of the collegiate club. “You learn how to give back to the community.”

There is a 4-H extension agent that works with youth in every county of West Virginia.

“They take the knowledge and research happening at WVU as a whole and provide it to the youth in our state,” Fint-Clark said. “It is a great way to funnel down our education and wonderful things WVU does to the kids in our state.”

4-H science camps, literacy and nutrition programs, agricultural field days and leadership experiences impact one in every four West Virginia youths every year.

Fint-Clark said the WVU club is well-deserving of being named National Collegiate 4-H Club of the Year.

“I am so proud of our collegiate 4-Hers,” she said. “They serve as great role models for the University. As an extension agent in Monongalia County, I call on them a lot to help – and my younger youth look up to them so much. They work very hard.”

While some of the participants in WVU’s 4-H program were accepting the club’s award, others remained in Morgantown to continue serving by participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

For more information on West Virginia’s 4-H programs, visit http://4-hyd.ext.wvu.edu/about4h .



CONTACT: University Relations/News