Problem-solving and fun for kids | PostIndependent.com

Problem-solving and fun for kids

Nonprofit SpotlightKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Extension Service is just filled with useful information. The service provides timely research-based help for commercial ranchers, nurseries and small acreage owners on livestock and pasture issues; home yard and plant problems such as bugs, diseases, xeriscaping, plants good for the area, chemical and biological controls, etc.; and provides solutions, especially in agriculture and natural resources.The Extension Service’s 4-H branch includes the club program and after-school programs, school enrichment (curriculum and perhaps someone to teach sections), and short-term programs. The service develops youth into better, happier, more productive citizens who will ultimately give back to their community. The service will also offer a new after-school program in collaboration with the Parachute School District and Girl Scouts, starting Oct. 22. Extension Service currently offers 20 to 30 projects in Garfield County, and is working on expanding and increasing the variety of programs offered to appeal to a broader cross-section of county youth. The advantages in working with the Extension Service is its ability to collaborate with other agencies to meet an identified need (4-H and Ag and Natural Resources); and its immediate response to residents’ identification of a plant/weed/bug problem (Ag and Natural Resources).

“We know we’ve succeeded when we solve a problem for someone, someone lets us know our educational programming is going to make a difference, and people call us back year after year and refer other people to us,” said Michele Pike, county extension director/4-H youth development agent. “Our youth members achieve and grow, stay out of trouble, give back to the community, and go on as young adults to improve their skills or education. They tell us they love the program and that it has changed them tremendously in positive ways. They stay in touch with us after they become adults, and let us know what’s going on in their lives.” Recruiting volunteers is the biggest challenge facing the Extension Service. Volunteers are needed to lead programs in leathercraft, entomology, cooking, rocketry, woodworking, outdoor adventures, ATV safety and wildlife. The time commitment for volunteer 4-H leaders is 10 to 40 hours per month, depending on what project(s) they lead. This commitment may be split with other leaders.To become a leader, contact the Garfield County Extension office at 625-3969. Those interested will be placed with a club or will get help organizing a club, and application paperwork will be sent out. Leaders are also required to go through a two-hour New Leader Training, which will be held Oct. 18 at the fairgrounds. Once the paperwork is complete, references checked, training completed, and the leader(s) accepted, they can begin club/project meetings.

“Extension is responsive to the citizens in Garfield County, and it is dynamic, changing with the times to meet new and projected needs. Without our services, there would be no 4-H program in Garfield County, and Ag and Natural Resource questions would have to be addressed by the private sector. The possibilities we can address are endless. We are only limited by staffing and by volunteer commitment.”Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday. She is the Garfield County Human Services media coordinator. To contact her, call 384-9118 or e-mail kvasilakis@postindependent.com.


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