Johnny Morgan | 7/18/2007 2:02:49 AM
LSU AgCenter 4-H agents recently acquired funds to purchase a trailer that will support outdoor skills programs in the Florida Parishes of the state.
For several years, Stefen Givens, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in St. Helena Parish, has been expanding the outdoor skills program by leaps and bounds in his area. But some needs still weren’t being met – until another agent brought his skills in fundraising to the table.
The Florida Parishes 4-H Outdoor Skills Program, like similar programs offered in other areas of the state, includes several disciplines. Among those are fishing sports, shooting sports, wildlife habitat, water ecology and ATV safety.
Outdoor skills are just one of the many 4-H projects and activities offered to young people across Louisiana through the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program. Those endeavors range from computers to child care and livestock to automotive safety.
Because of Givens’ success with the outdoor skills program, LSU AgCenter county agent Peter Cannizzaro of St. Tammany Parish knew where he wanted to go when he started to implement a similar program in his area.
"I quickly got in touch with Stefen Givens, since he already had the program up and running in Washington, St Helena and Tangipahoa parishes," Cannizzaro said.
Agreeing not to reinvent something that had already been developed, Cannizzaro said he and Givens merged St. Tammany into the already-formed Florida Parishes 4-H Outdoor Skills Program.
"Once we got these preliminaries out of the way, I asked Stefen what we needed in the way of equipment," Cannnizzaro explained.
But what they needed was a rather large item – a trailer to haul and protect the equipment.
"After finding out that the trailer would cost about $5,000, I started thinking about how I could get my hands on that much, and fast," Cannizzaro said, adding, "I’ve always been a big proponent of nontraditional funding streams, and the sheriff quickly came to mind."
Cannizzaro said he visited with St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain and told him what he was doing and what he needed. And after a few minutes of bringing the sheriff up to speed on what the program was all about, Cannizzaro said the sheriff jumped at it and said he could help. He also suggested that Cannizzaro visit the sheriffs in the three other parishes involved.
"He instructed me to visit the other three and see if they wanted to buy in, but he assured me that if any or all of them would not participate that he would buy their part," Cannizzaro said.
At that point, Cannizzaro, Givens and Todd Tarifa, the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H coordinator for southeastern Louisiana, set out to see the other three sheriffs. As a result, all said they would be honored to help out, and the program had the approximately $5,000 it needed.
The 17-foot enclosed trailer was purchased with funds donated by sheriffs Jack Strain of St Tammany Parish, Aubrey Jones of Washington Parish, Nathaniel Williams of St. Helena Parish and Daniel Edwards of Tangipahoa Parish.
The trailer will be used to house guns, ammunition, skeet throwers, fishing supplies and ATV equipment, along with other items used to educate 4-H’ers.
"Without this trailer, agents would not be able to care for, safely store and, most importantly, move equipment from event to event in order to educate youth in an efficient manner," Cannizzaro said.
The trailer, which has a camouflage paint job and lettering done by Camo Designs of Lafayette, also is an important means of advertising the 4-H Outdoor Skills Program and saying thanks to the sheriffs who helped to pay for it, the 4-H agents said.
For additional information about the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Outdoor Skills Program or the variety of opportunities offered through 4-H, contact the LSU AgCenter Extension office in your parish or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.
Peter Cannizzaro at (985) 875-2635 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Stefen Givens at (225) 222-4136 or email@example.com
Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or firstname.lastname@example.org