Alfaro, H., Wharton, C. 2020, 4-H 4 Nevada Vol 20, Iss 3, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno

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One person at a podium


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"I want to be Nevada's future"

4-H youth featured in video speak to their impact on Nevada's future 


Participants in Nevada 4-H Youth Development share their planned career goals.


Nevada 4-H partners with AmeriCorps to bring opportunities to inner-city youth

Extension aims to make post-secondary education a reality for underserved Las Vegas youth

By Claudene Wharton

4-H student holding their drone Extension’s 4-H Grows Here Project will reach inner-city youth, teaching them STEM skills, such as those youth learn by building and flying drones.

University of Nevada, Reno Extension has been awarded a $280,000 AmeriCorps Program grant to expand its Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program in Clark County to engage more youth in underserved, inner-city areas of Las Vegas in STEM, civic engagement and other activities aimed at equipping the youth to successfully attend and complete some form of post-secondary education.

The grant is from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads service, volunteering and grant-making efforts in the U.S. It is in partnership with Nevada Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that is the Governor’s commission which selects and administers AmeriCorps State programs in Nevada. AmeriCorps members are placed throughout the U.S. in intensive service positions where they learn valuable skills, receive a living allowance stipend, and then have access to awards that can be used toward qualified educational expenses.

The grant to Extension will fund the 4-H Grows Here Project in Clark County, using AmeriCorps members recruited from the community to engage youth, and create and sustain 4-H clubs in the inner city aimed at youth ages 5-19, with an emphasis on low-income and middle school-aged youth, and youth of color.

AmeriCorps members will serve in various capacities to support the youth development program – building community relationships, educating youth in STEM or other skills, or serving as 4-H club leaders. Together, they will be responsible for educating 3,000 youth through workshops, and then transitioning at least half of them for longer-term 4-H club programs. Once active in 4-H clubs, youth will complete 4-H curriculum related to computer science, robotics, chemistry, rocketry, drones, eco-science and other STEM subjects. Finally, the youth will select and complete a project that incorporates what they have learned to address a community need or solve a problem.

“Research shows that the 4-H Youth Development Program plays a special and vital role in the lives of America's young people,” said Ivory W. Lyles, University of Nevada, Reno Extension Director. “Expanding the reach of 4-H to inner city youth will create more true leaders who are prepared and engaged to take on critical challenges facing families, communities and businesses today.”

In fact, research by Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are four times more likely to contribute to their communities, and two times as likely to plan to go to college and pursue STEM opportunities outside of school. They also report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, and an elevated level of engagement at school.

The 4-H Program is America’s largest youth development organization and is based on providing experiences where young people learn by doing. Youth complete hands-on projects in areas such as health, science, agriculture and citizenship, where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on leadership roles. Today, Nevada 4-H offers in-school and after-school programs, camps and various clubs, working in partnership with hundreds of organizations across the state, now including Nevada Volunteers and AmeriCorps.

“Nevada Volunteers is excited to see what is accomplished through this grant, and we are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership,” said Alicia Blood, program officer at Nevada Volunteers. “4-H does amazing things, and with AmeriCorps members, the possibilities are endless.”

Extension will need to recruit a number of people to serve as the AmeriCorps member for the project quickly. For more information and to apply:

For more information on the 4-H Grows Here Project, email Nora Luna, urban 4-H Youth Development Program coordinator.


Nevada celebrates National 4-H week

Event aims to help eliminate the opportunity gap and encourage STEM learning

By Claudene Wharton

University of Nevada, Reno Extension and its 4-H Youth Development Program joined the rest of the nation to celebrate National 4-H week, October 4-10. This year’s theme was “Opportunity4All,” aimed at rallying support for the program and identifying solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million youth across America.

Part of the annual event is always the 4-H STEM Challenge. This year’s challenge, “Mars Base Camp,” was a collection of activities to teach youth STEM skills, including mechanical engineering, physics, computer science and agriculture. The challenge was conducted at several locations across the state, including at four schools and a library in Humboldt County. In Washoe County, the 4-H Program incorporated the challenge into a four-day STEM Day Camp for youth at the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra.

The challenge and all 4-H Week activities were conducted following all COVID-19 guidelines to ensure health and safety. The challenge was just one of many activities conducted during National 4-H Week and the whole month of October to celebrate 4-H.

Adrianna, age 10 
4-H youth holding up a sign that reads ‘To me, opportunity means getting a job’
Anthony, age 8
4-H youth holding up a sign that reads ‘To me, opportunity means getting a chance to have freedom'’
Brisa, age 7
4-H youth holding up a sign that reads ‘To me, opportunity means hacerlo otra vez'
Youth participating in the STEM Day Camp in Reno display what opportunity means to them, as part of National 4-H Week, and its theme, Opportunity4All.

Three Nevada 4-H professionals honored for 25 years of service and excellence

Thousands of Nevada youth impacted by their efforts and dedication
On Oct. 21, three Nevada 4-H professionals were recognized by the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals.

Image slide featuring a picture with Sarah Chvilicek and the words "Sarah Chvilicek, Nevada, 25 years of service

Sarah Chvilicek, Northern Area and Washoe County 4-H program manager, received the Meritorious Service Award and the 25 Years of Service Award.

Image slide featuring a picture with Carrie StarK and the words "Carrie Stark, Nevada, 25 years of service

Carrie Stark, Nevada 4-H director, received the National Educational Technology Award and the 25 Years of Service Award.

Image slide featuring a picture with Jill Baker-Tingey and the words "Jill Baker-Tingey, Nevada, 25 years of service

Jill Tingey, Elko County Extension educator, received the 25 Years of Service Award.

Ten Nevada 4-H professionals attended the virtual conference throughout the week, and Lindsay Chichester, Douglas County Extension educator, contributed a poster presentation for the event.


Volunteer Joni Test receives the Nevada 4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award

4-H celebrates volunteers with awards and recognition

By Hannah Alfaro

Volunteer Joni Test hugging a 4-H participantJoni Test has been volunteering with 4-H Youth Development for over 20 years.

University of Nevada, Reno Extension 4-H Youth Development has named Joni Test as the recipient of this year’s 4-H Volunteer Leader of the Year Award. Sponsored by the Nevada Agricultural Foundation, the award recognizes volunteers who dedicate time and energy to enhance the lives of youth in 4-H programs by incorporating agriculture into their curriculum, including crop and animal production; natural resources and wildlife; and the use of agricultural products, such as wool, cotton and meat.

Test has dedicated her time, energy and resources to educating and serving the youth in her community. She has been a volunteer for Washoe County 4-H Youth Development for over 20 years after having participated as a youth.

“It has really been my privilege to work with such wonderful families and their youth,” Test said. “Being a 4-H leader has given me the opportunity to help youth grow and develop, and it’s amazing to see it happen. Our motto is to make the best better, and I believe 4-H has been able to foster that and make a positive impact.”

Test plays a significant role in the 4-H Leg of Lamb Club, where she encourages her members to strive for personal excellence, accountability and responsibility through her mentoring. Her club is entirely youth-led, with the volunteer leaders playing a support role since she encourages the youth to take on leadership positions. Test also strives to ensure that all members of the club have access to market and breeding projects, including members in locations that can’t keep livestock. The club also regularly participates in community service projects, including hosting clothing drives, serving meals at the homeless shelter, and taking families with limited resources shopping.

Test also helps recruit teen counselors for the Nevada 4-H Camp and is a member of the 4-H Leaders’ Council and the planning committee for the 4-H County Livestock Show. She will receive a certificate, a plaque and a check for $1,000 to be used for teaching supplies and the development of her clubs and programs.

“We are so happy to be able to honor Joni with this award for all of her years of outstanding service to our state's youth through 4-H.” Carrie Stark, 4-H Youth Development Program director, said. “Joni and all of our other excellent volunteers are really the backbone of the 4-H program. We appreciate them all so much.”


Alumni Q&A: Lifelong 4-H participant and volunteer JoAnn Elston shares how the program impacted her life

By Hannah Alfaro

JoAnn Elston After participating as a youth, JoAnn Elston has been a volunteer for the 4-H Youth Development Program for 45 years. Photo by Theresa Danna-Douglas.

As a youth, how did you participate in 4-H programs?

I started out as a 9-year-old. At that point I was in clothing, sewing, cooking, crocheting and gardening programs, and I always attended camp. For the clothing program, I was Nevada’s representative to Congress. For the 4-H conference, I won the first trip that Nevada ever sponsored to Washington D.C. at the National 4-H Conference Center. My grandmother, my mother, myself, my son and my grandchildren have all participated in 4-H.

How have you participated in 4-H as an adult?

I’ve been a leader for 45 years. I’ve taught entomology (the study of insects), forestry, gardening, clothing, dress review, food preservation and adventure club. I was also the recipient of the National 4-H Alumni Award for the National 4-H Alumni Recognition Program. I’m still on the Nevada 4-H Camp Advisory Council and I’m in the Nevada 4-H Hall of Fame. 4-H has molded my life in many ways. It certainly helped me in my profession, which is teaching, and I’ve watched my own children grow up in it, and then I watched my grandchildren grow up in it. Each and every one of them have achieved a lot in their own way and are still using many of those skills they learned in 4-H today.

Looking back on your 4-H experiences, what did you learn that benefited you most throughout your life?

The number one most important thing is the skills that I learned, which I’m still using today. These are skills such as organization and homemaking skills, including sewing and cooking. Another one would be my communication skills, which have been something that’s been vital for me, especially being a leader. Another thing I’ve carried from 4-H throughout my life is the friendships from my youth and from my mentorship. In fact, I’m going to have lunch with one of my 4-H kids in the next week. Leadership is another big one. Any of the programs or classes that I participated in or that I’ve taught have had a lasting impact and I use all those skills today.

What was your fondest 4-H memory?

I loved going to the 4-H Center in Washington D.C., where I was able to visit Annapolis, and I sang at a church service there. I also sang at the MetLife Building at a 4-H function. Both of those events are very memorable to me. It’s also been amazing watching my kids achieve in 4-H the same way I was able to.

What are the most important reasons for youth to get involved in 4-H today?

The skills, companionship and leadership are things that the youth of Nevada, and the nation, need more than anything else. 4-H is great with the advancement of skills that are needed for our youth today. What I liked the most about 4-H, in regard to the skills, is that you can take a class in cooking, but you don’t just do it for just six weeks. You are probably going to do it for months. And then the next year, you’re going to advance to a higher cooking class, such a baking. Then there is the leadership. You learn to stand up in front of a crowd to give a speech or demonstration or show an animal, which takes courage to do. You have to learn the self-confidence it takes to do it.

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