The Cornell Cooperative Extension office is buzzing with activity as the countdown to the 2011 Clinton County Fair is underway.
The County Fair gives local 4-H club members the opportunity to display and be recognized for the many projects they have worked on over the past year. What happens behind the scenes is a lot of hard work and takes a lot of coordination from both extension staff and a host of volunteers.
The 4-H Program and its focus on youth development and personal growth is a big part of Cooperative Extension. For about 100 years, youth from all walks of life have benefited from joining local 4-H clubs and participating in educational activities of all kinds.
The 4-H mission is to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth organization in the United States with about 6 million youth participating in 4-H activities around the country learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.
A common misconception is that 4-H is just for farm kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the agricultural activities are still very popular, the programs have become as diverse as today's youth. You are just as likely to find 4-H clubs that focus on renewable energy, computer science or civic affairs as you are to find agricultural science and animal husbandry clubs.
In rural areas with a large agricultural population, there are still many clubs that involve learning about the husbandry of cows, goats, sheep, horses, chickens, rabbits and other livestock. However, even in these clubs other activities are encouraged to give youth a well-rounded educational experience.
In more urban areas, 4-H clubs may be more focused on creative arts, public speaking, model rocketry or youth-in-governance programs. You can stop by the 4-H building at the Clinton County Fair to see some of the diversity of our local programming.
4-H has always promoted the practical application of university research to improve local communities. Because 4-H is directly connected to the research and resources of the nation's 106 land-grant universities and colleges of the Cooperative Extension System, it is well positioned to strengthen our nation's global competitiveness and leadership in science, technology and engineering.
An exciting new project that the 4-H program is participating in this summer will directly benefit our community and contribute to scientific research being done at Cornell University. Scientists from Cornell and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have been on the lookout for the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle recently introduced into New York State. This beetle has been responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in the Midwest. The 4-H Wasp Watcher program will be teaching youth about the Emerald Ash Borer and a predatory wasp that may help to contain it's spread.
The Cerceris Fumipennis wasp is a ground wasp that stocks their nests with this type of beetle. 4-Hers will be learning how to identify the wasps, use GPS and online tools to map their colonies and report findings and submit samples to Cornell for scientific research. The Wasp Watcher project is free and participation is not limited to 4-H club members.
It offers an excellent opportunity for all youth and adult volunteers to get involved in hands-on scientific research, learn how to use GPS and online mapping technology, learn about bio-surveillance and provide a valuable service to our community.
The deadline to sign up for this program is Monday, July 25. Call our office at 561-7450 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/clinton to register.
To learn more about 4-H and see the results of many hours of hard work, I encourage you to visit the 4-H building at the Clinton County Fair. On display will be a year's worth of projects from many local 4-H club members. For more information on joining 4-H or more details on the Wasp Watcher program, contact Alexa King, 4-H youth development educator at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Plattsburgh, 561-7450.
Peter Hagar, agriculture program educator and Energy $mart Communities collaborator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 6064 Route 22, No. 5, Plattsburgh, 12901. Phone 561-7450, fax 561-0183 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.