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Wood County 4-H working on ‘Opportunity4All’

Jade Ellison and her grandmother, Cheryl George, cut bags to make PLARN (plastic yarn) at the 4-H Camp in Wood County. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Every year, National 4-H Week sees millions of youth, parents, volunteers and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H as youth celebrate this week.

The theme for this year’s National 4-H Week, Oct. 4-10, is “Opportunity4All,” is a campaign that was created by National 4-H Council to rally support for Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program and identify solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.

With so many children struggling to reach their full potential, 4-H believes that young people, in partnership with adults, can play a key role in creating a more promising and equitable future for youth, families and communities across the country, officials said.

One of the beliefs of 4-H is every child should have an equal opportunity to succeed. They also believe every child should have the skills they need to make a difference in the world.

Wood County 4-H will observe National 4-H Week this year by highlighting some of the inspirational 4-H youth in the community who are working tirelessly to support each other and their communities.

Teen Leaders Emma Casto and Ali Evans help plan the new 4-H year while Jordan Dearth helps prepare materials for the Ox Roast which was held last weekend. This week is National 4-H Week. (Photo Provided)

“We believe youth perspectives are so important and a solution to eliminating the opportunity gap, because young people come with new ideas and new ways of seeing the world,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4-H Council.

By encouraging diverse voices and innovative actions, 4-H believes that solutions can be found to address the educational, economic and health issues that have created the opportunity gap.

In Wood County, the county 4-H Teen Leader Club has worked to complete a service project, despite COVID-19 restrictions. The group led by Emma Daley, Teen Leader and member of Lubeck Lucky Clovers 4-H Club, met virtually to learn how to make PLARN (plastic yarn) out of shopping bags. Daley wrote and received a grant from West Virginia 4-H All Stars and used those funds to purchase supplies to make looms to weave mats for the homeless. She also led a virtual 4-H camp class to teach youth how to make PLARN, and when the group could finally meet in person with social distancing, Teen Leaders were able to complete their first mat. The group plans to continue to meet to finish this project.

Another group of 4-H Teen Leaders went to a national Healthy Lifestyles conference in Washington, D.C., before the pandemic and began planning a conference to raise awareness about youth mental health. The teens have been working with 4-Hers from Wyoming and Mercer counties to put together a virtual conference, to be held this Saturday, that talks about youth mental health and raises awareness about this issue that affects so many young people.

“I am so proud of our 4-H Teen Leaders who have taken the leadership skills they have learned and persevered despite the challenges of COVID-19,” said Jodi Smith, 4-H Extension Agent. “All of our 4-H clubs in Wood County have continued to serve the community creatively during this time. Many clubs have worked out plans to continue to work on environmental projects as well as serving others through messages of kindness, donations, and more. Now they are working together to find ways to ensure everyone can participate in 4-H — whether in person following safety guidelines from WVU Extension Service and the local health department, or virtually by offering online opportunities for youth who are unable to meet in person.”

Erin Carmicle finishes the first mat made from PLARN (plastic yarn) during activities at the Wood County 4-H grounds. (Photo Provided)

In Wood County, more than 300 4-H youth and 100 volunteers from the community are involved in community 4-H clubs. Nearly 5,000 youth participate in a WVU Extension Service youth development program throughout the year in Wood County.

“This year we are going to start some in-person small group and virtual 4-H SPIN (Special Interest) Clubs where youth can meet on Fridays or one evening during the week to participate in topic specific clubs like STEM, cooking, leadership, arts, and more,” Smith said. “We also have community 4-H clubs that have started meeting in person and are following social distancing and safety guidelines. Anyone interested in learning more about our programs can call the WVU Extension Service office at (304) 424-1960.”

One of the most anticipated events of National 4-H Week every year is the 4-H STEM Challenge, formerly known as National Youth Science Day. The theme of this year’s event, which is expected to see hundreds of thousands of youth across the nation taking part throughout October, is Mars Base Camp. Developed by Google and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches kids ages 8-14 STEM skills, including mechanical engineering, physics, computer science and agriculture.

To learn more, visit https://extension.wvu.edu/wood.

Wood County 4-H Teen Leaders President Katie Daley and Vice President Cyleigh Sampson meet to plan the upcoming 4-H teen calendar for Wood County. This week is National 4-H Week. (Photo Provided)

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