By Brittany Jablonsky
September 26, 2016
Since 2011, Farm Credit has supported the National 4-H Council’s Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) program, which brings 4-H members from across the country to Washington, D.C. to participate in civic workshops, committees and field trips and develop valuable leadership skills.
During the students’ week in Washington, they also develop a community action plan to implement a specific improvement project in their local community. For the past five years, Farm Credit has provided scholarships for diverse and underserved youth to participate in CWF. This year, Farm Credit expanded its support to create the Grow Community Change Challenge – a $500 mini-grant awarded to seven CWF delegations with the most impactful community action plans, as selected by their peers. The winning teams will use these resources to help enact their project and make positive changes in their own communities once they return home from our nation’s capital. In addition, the Kansas Frontier 4-H delegation was selected as the overall Challenge winner and awarded an additional $500 for their plan to partner with a local community organization to provide housing for homeless veterans.
Ben Duncanson, Farm Credit Council director of policy analysis and development, shared his insights with CWF attendees this past summer in Washington, D.C.
The winning projects represent a diversity of creative solutions to a wide range of community needs. They include:
- Overall Winner: Kansas Frontier Delegation: Building Homes for Veterans – Partnering with the Kansas City Veterans Community Project to provide housing for homeless veterans. Watch a four-part video presentation about this project: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4
- Florida: Mentoring through 4-H Projects – Working with local law enforcement agencies to reach out to at-risk teens through STEM-focused 4-H projects.
- Michigan: Annual Lake Cleanup – Implementing an annual cleanup day to beautify Lake Erie and other community lakes. Watch a video presentation about this project.
- Nebraska - Garden County: Jeannie’s Community Garden – Reviving a community garden to replenish the local food bank.
- South Carolina: Fixing Potholes and Mentoring – Creating a youth mentoring program aimed at fixing potholes to make community roads safer.
- Texas - Brazos County: Community Ramp Building Day – Partnering with the Texas Ramp Project to establish an annual ramp building day where community members help others with disabilities by building ramps to make their homes accessible. Watch a video presentation about this project.
- Wyoming: Educating about and Raising Bees – Creating a new 4-H project area to educate youth on the importance of bees to agriculture. Watch a video presentation about this project.
Farm Credit is proud to support the next generation of rural leaders changing their communities for the better. Congratulations to these outstanding 4-H’ers!
About Gary Matteson
Gary Matteson knows agriculture first hand. Until recently he was a small farmer operating a greenhouse business in Epsom, New Hampshire. Matteson now works at the Farm Credit Council, the trade association for the nationwide Farm Credit System. He is an advocate for young, beginning, small, and minority farmer outreach programs. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, generating new program ideas to benefit them. In addition to working directly with farm groups, Matteson is active in policy related to new entrants to farming. He now serves on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.