Volunteers Valuable In LSU AgCenters Work

Alexis O. Navarro, Morgan, Johnny W.  |  11/27/2006 11:39:51 PM

News Release Distributed 12/11/2003

Family and Consumer Education volunteers play a vital role in the mission of the LSU AgCenter across the state.

These volunteers, who are part of the group formerly called the Homemakers Club, now help LSU AgCenter agents present educational information on topics ranging from literacy for children to coastal restoration projects.

But the FCE volunteers aren’t alone. Volunteer leaders also play critical roles in such areas as the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program. And Master Gardener volunteers help to deliver lawn and gardening information to people across the state.

Of course, volunteers also have to sharpen their skills, so some Jefferson Parish Family and Consumer Education volunteers went back to class this fall to learn the basics of computing.

"The Family and Consumer Education volunteers play an integral role in the presentation of LSU AgCenter programs across the state and are interested in updating their technical skills," LSU AgCenter agent Alexis Navarro said while hosting the class that was sponsored by the Jefferson Parish Library. "Some of these volunteers are getting computers from their kids for Christmas and want to be able to use them when they come. Others just want to be able to stay connected, since they realize technology is here to stay."

The computing classes, which covered basic computer skills, basic word processing, Internet basics and use of the library’s Internet public access catalog, are each held once a month at the Jefferson Parish library.

While the recent session was the first time this group of volunteers had been involved in a computer class, it was not the first time they had received educational information on specific topics. LSU AgCenter faculty members frequently provide such training to volunteers, so those volunteers can, in turn, pass along what they’ve learned to the people in their communities.

"Last year, when the Fight The Bite campaign was implemented statewide to create awareness of the dangers of mosquitoes and their connection to the West Nile virus outbreak, the FCE volunteers helped to provide the information to senior centers," Ethel Tarleton, president of the Louisiana Association of Family and Consumer Education, explained.

In addition to that sort of effort, some of the 138 volunteer members of Jefferson association also are involved in a financial literacy program that’s sponsored by the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H program.

"’Welcome to the Real World’ is the financial literacy program that our 4-H agent conducts at the Archbishop Chapelle High School," Navarro explained of that effort. "FCE volunteers have been partnering with the 4-H’ers to get information on finances. This is just another way that the LSU AgCenter is working together with its various units to help the community."

Explaining another community educational effort, Tarleton said a group of LSU AgCenter volunteers in Lafourche Parish, known as Bosom Buddies, is working with the hospital to help inform women of the need to have regular mammograms. This program was recently awarded a $60,000 grant to support its ongoing activities.

In Tangipahoa Parish, the FCE group has been involved with fourth graders for several years with a program teaching respect for the flag.

"This group is teaching the fourth graders to display the flag properly and to show respect to it," Tarleton explained. "The program has gone over so well, it’s now being expanded to Livingston Parish."

Another program that many FCE groups across the state are involved with is the "Raise A Reader" program. This program is attempting to show the benefits of reading to children.

"What we’re doing with this program in Jefferson Parish is working with Friends of the Library to get books into kids’ hands as early as possible," Tarleton said. "The program is implemented a little different in each parish, but here we deliver a board book and a burp pad to the newborns in the local hospitals.

"We want to show the benefits of reading to children – newborn to five years of age."

In addition to programs such as these, LSU AgCenter Family and Consumer Education volunteers also are involved in the restructure of coastal erosion, indoor air quality and healthy homes projects.

For information on becoming a Family and Consumer Education volunteer, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact: Alexis Navarro at (504) 838-1170 or anavorro@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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