Thomas A. Merrill, Naquin, Donna G., Madere, Beverly A., Morgan, Johnny W. | 4/23/2005 1:45:41 AM
A group of Jefferson Parish 4-H Club members are working to make their school a little brighter and their community a better place – thanks, in part, to a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart Corp.
These types of community service projects are hallmarks of the 4-H youth development program, and club members across Louisiana can be found engaging in them.
But the grant to the members of the John Ehret High School 4-H Club in Jefferson Parish was an added bonus, which club members touted as a means to doing even more projects this year.
"One of the big things we try to teach young people in the Louisiana 4-H program is to look for ways they can do good things for their communities – and how they can lead others to take part in community service," said Terril Faul, who heads the LSU AgCenter’s Department of 4-H Youth Development. "That’s what every 4-H Club member commits to do when they say they’ll use their ‘hands to larger service’ and their ‘health to better living’ each time they recite the 4-H pledge."
The Louisiana 4-H program is coordinated by the LSU AgCenter in cooperation with schools and communities across the state. It aims to help young people develop skills that will benefit them throughout their lives through involvement in community service activities and educational projects ranging from computer science to nutrition and natural resources to communications.
For the John Ehret 4-H Club, the process of seeking the Wal-Mart grant also was one in which they learned to try and try again.
Members of the club applied for a grant from another organization over a year ago, but that attempt didn’t yield the desired results.
"I told them not to get discouraged. There is just so much money to go around, and you just can’t give up," Beverly Madere, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Jefferson Parish, said.
So Kevin Timmens, the club president, applied again for a grant – this time from Wal-Mart, since his father works for the company and was familiar with grants it had given in the past.
This time the club’s attempt met with success.
Timmens said he never thought the grant would be for such a large amount, but he’s glad it will allow the club to do some more of the projects members have wanted to do.
"We are able to do some painting and other fix-up projects around the school," Timmens said of the possibilities opened up by the grant.
But those projects aren’t the 4-H Club’s first attempts at serving the community. Last year the club conducted a clothing drive for the battered women’s shelter in the area and delivered 10 boxes of clothes to the residents. Timmens said he wants to do more projects like that this year.
The John Ehret High School, which has almost 3,000 students, is the largest high school in the New Orleans metro area. Madere said that the school’s 4-H Club received the grant money this fall in time for the students to paint a classroom to help students learn better by brightening up their surroundings.
John Ehret 4-H members also plan other events to serve the needy in their area this year – including more service projects for the battered women and at-risk teen-agers in shelters near the school. Members also plan service projects with nursing homes in the area.
"We also will be doing an Easter Egg Hunt this year for area kids," Timmens said.
Other 4-H Clubs around the state have found out about the availability of the Wal-Mart grants and also are beginning to take advantage of them to help with financing community service projects.
"We’ve received a Wal-Mart matching grant for the past two years," said Donna Ayo, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Lafourche Parish.
Ayo said 4-H’ers in that area combined the Wal-Mart grant with proceeds from other fund-raising activities, like car washes, to give scholarships to outstanding 4-H’ers from the area. Those scholarships memorialize two 4-H’ers who were killed in a car accident, Ayo said.
"The Wal-Mart grants are given to clubs that are making a difference in their communities, and the John Ehret club surely fits that category," Madere said, adding, "Of course, I’m partial to the 4-H’ers in Jefferson Parish, but I know club members across the state are making a difference in their communities."
For more information on the 4-H youth development program in Louisiana and the opportunities for those who participate in it, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Beverly Madere at (504) 838-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Ayo at (985) 446-1316 or email@example.com
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or email@example.com