Tuesday, October 13 , 2015, 2:57 pm | A Few Clouds 83º

4-H Members Organizing Fundraising Walk to Fill Funding Gap for Leadership Program

By Rose Aigner for Santa Barbara County 4-H |

The Santa Barbara County 4-H Youth Development Program has a group of members working to complete an Emerald Star Project.

An Emerald Star project is a large scope community service project organized and run by a 4-H member. With the completion of an Emerald Star project, a 4-H member has the opportunity to advance his or her ranking in the county 4-H. An Emerald Star project also makes members highly qualified candidates for Santa Barbara County 4-H scholarships.

This Emerald Star project is a committee project that has joined 4-H members from several clubs across Santa Barbara County. Kayla Erath (Santa Ynez), Lucas Agner (Santa Barbara), Clayton Hamblin (Cuyama), Pablo Lopez (Cuyama), Tony Andoyan (Santa Maria) and Kaitlin Breck (Lompoc) decided to start this project because they saw the need it would fulfill.

The Santa Barbara County 4-H funds several leadership trainings and experiences for its teen members. For example, the LEaD Conference is a camp where 4-H members learn leadership, community outreach and public speaking.

Opportunities like the LEaD Conference are opportunities teens cannot always get in school. They are part of the reason that kids join 4-H. They are trying to gain skills that will better their future, and help them understand how to better serve their communities. Unfortunately, like many programs these days, the leadership program funding in the county 4-H has been cut. Leadership programs now receive only 2 percent of the Santa Barbara County 4-H funding.

That is where this Emerald Star Project comes in to play. This committee decided to begin a fundraising effort to fill that budget gap. The five members meet on a regular basis to organize their ideas, which have turned out to be a Walk-a-Thon. They named it Walk for Future of Leadership.

This Walk-a-thon is made up of two parts. The first is the sponsors. Each committee member set out to get businesses and organizations to sponsor the walk-a-thon, with either money or goodie bag donations. The second part of the project is signing 4-H members up to walk. Each member who registers as a walker is encouraged to get pledges totaling at least $50. Each walker will receive a goodie bag and other memorabilia, depending on how much money they raise.

The problem is that the Walk for the Future of Leadership committee is still far short of their goal. If they do not raise the money needed, 4-H in this county will cease to have leadership programs. Raising an animal teaches a lot, but learning to collaborate, organize and serve is the true heart of 4-H involvement.

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— Rose Aigner is a volunteer for Santa Barbara County 4-H.

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