Twenty cyclists will fasten their helmets, mount their bicycles, and kick it into high gear this week as they pedal across West Virginia in the ninth annual “Outspoken for 4-H” bike ride.

The four-day fundraising event kicked off Thursday at the Mercer County 4-H Camp in Princeton. The riders will pedal more than 250 miles before reaching their destination – West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp – on Sunday, June 17.

As is the tradition, the riders will be greeted at the finish line by more than 300 cheering 4-H’ers eager to congratulate them and officially open the weeklong West Virginia Older Members’ 4-H Conference.

In addition to their training and participation, riders have also committed to raising a minimum of $500 in pledges to create scholarships for 4-H camp.
The 2012 event route highlights the southeastern region of the state.

Thursday, June 14

Riders travel 90 miles from Princeton through Pipestem State Park and Hinton, ending the day outside of Lewisburg in Greenbrier County. They will be spending the night at the Greenbrier County 4-H Camp.

Friday, June 15

The cyclists make an 80-mile trip through Pocahontas County, including the towns of White Sulphur Springs and Green Bank. They will end the day at the Pocahontas 4-H Camp and spend the night at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Saturday, June 16

Riders complete a 40-mile ride over Cheat Mountain and arrive at the Randolph County 4-H Camp in Beverly.

Sunday, June 17

The cyclists reach WVU Jackson’s Mill after a 65-mile ride through Elkins, Buckhannon and Weston.

WVU Extension agents will join with 4-H volunteer leaders and members to help the riders along the way by organizing pit stops and assisting with food and lodging. A crew of bike technicians, medical personnel and other volunteers accompany the riders throughout the trek.

Upon their arrival at each camp, cyclists give a presentation on health, well-being and overcoming challenges to the campers.

“Many of the event participants grew up in 4-H or have been touched by 4-H in some way, whether through their children, friends or relatives,” said James Grantham, Outspoken volunteer coordinator and lifelong 4-H’er. “It’s a unique experience for everyone, especially for people that don’t have a history with 4-H.”
“Some of our participants had never attended a county camp until they arrived on a bike.”

Rookie cyclist Mary Anne Kuykendall will join the event for the first time this year.

“I wanted to participate because it is an opportunity to give back to the 4-H program which has made such a positive impact on my life,” said Kuykendall. “I want other youth of West Virginia to be able to have the great experiences of going to 4-H camp.”

Kuykendall has spent many summers with 4-H, initially as a camper and later maturing to the rank of counselor.

“I still can’t put in to words how amazing the 4-H camping program is,” she said.

The annual bike ride rallies 4-H supporters, alumni and members to make tax-deductible donations to the 4-H Youth Development Program, a WVU Extension Service organization that touches the lives of one in four West Virginia youths each year.

Through WVU Extension faculty and volunteers, 4-H provides educational programs via clubs, individual projects, county and state camps, after-school programs and special interest groups. Research has shown that, while they have fun and make friends, 4-H youths learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through their individual and group projects.

All tax-deductible contributions will go directly to the program area chosen by donors, who have the option to select 4-H camp scholarships or other 4-H activities and projects.

To learn more about Outspoken for 4-H, visit www.outspokenfor4h.ext.wvu.edu, or contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service.

—WVU—

bu/6/14/12

CONTACT: Cassie Waugh
Office: 304-293-8735; Cell: 304-376-1829; Cassie.waugh@mail.wvu.edu