Arizona 4-H Military Partnership

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 
2006
Issue: 

The strain to family life caused when military personnel, as well as military reserve and National Guard are separated from loved ones, as well as moving often with re-assignment has been well documented. Youth in service families often take on increased responsibilities at home and may suddenly feel isolated and alone. Because of this, their mental health, grades, and social lives may be affected. It is recognized on and off the installations that family life has been disrupted due to deployment.

The U.S. Army, Community & Family Support Center (CFSC) and the USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) share the goal of providing positive youth development programs to build the skills and competencies youth need to live productive, healthy and self-sufficient lives. These two federal agencies have created a partnership, the USDA/Army Youth Development Project (USDA/AYDP), to accomplish their common goal and make efficient use of public resources by providing predictable, consistent youth programs on Army installations worldwide. A similar partnership has been forged with the Air Force. With the recent deployment of National Guard and Reserve units, Operation Military Kids has been introduced, as now nearly every neighborhood has been impacted.

Description of Action: 

A three-year Military 4-H Grant from USDA via the partnership with Army and Air Force allows Cooperative Extension personnel in Arizona to reach out to youth and military personnel from Luke and Davis-Monthan Air Force Bases, Yuma Proving Grounds, Ft. Huachuca and also overseas bases in Osan, Korea and Kadena, Misawa, and Yukota, Japan. Partnerships are being developed with the Air and Army National Guard as well as with the Reserve units to build support networks for youth and families.

Two key components of the project are increased communication between the military and local community and staff training. County extension agents have trained members of the military families in workforce preparation, community service, and 4-H leadership. Monthly conference calls facilitate two-way communication between and within installations in Arizona and overseas. Integration into present county programming is the key, along with consistency. Youth from Yuma Proving Ground, Fr. Huachuca, Luke and Davis-Monthan have become part of county and state 4-H programs and events, including leadership, citizenship and life skill building activities. Trained teams of military youth staff representing different branches offers consistent application and implementation. 4-H Military Kids ensures that soldiers can focus on their mission, knowing that their children are in safe, supervised environments with caring adults.

The Arizona 4-H Youth Development programs have assembled and distributed "Hero Packs" containing items designed to boost the morale of families of deployed soldiers. Nearly 500 packs have been distributed through the 15 county Extension offices. An additional two-year Operation 4-H Military Kids grant will allow expansion to those youth and families of the "suddenly military" of the National Guard and Reserve. days a week.

Impact: 

With the completion of the second year of the grant in 2004-05, 20 Military 4-H Clubs were started and 337 youth enrolled in 4-H clubs in Arizona. This represents a 27 percent increase in enrollment from the first year. A total of 72 staff members were trained in the past two years. A new kindergarten Clover Kids club was started at Ft. Huachuca. Integration in to the 4-H program between county and installation is increasing with participation in county fair exhibits, and county and state events. Content is being delivered in Health Rocks!, Life Rocks!, Robotics, GPS/GIS, Engineering, Be the E!, an entrepreneurship club for teens, Character Counts!, and Mini-Society. The evidence of a functioning collaboration between the 4-H program and military installations is the support and attendance of the Luke staff at the two face to face trainings held this past year. The Arizona 4-H Military partnership presented a workshop at CYFAR, The Olive, the Blue, and the Green with representation from county 4-H faculty, Luke AFB, and the state 4-H office.

The Arizona 4-H Military Partnership is recognized nationally as a strong collaboration and integrated program. This project provides predictable services for Army and Air Force as well as Reserve and National Guard youth as they transition either from one installation to another or have a parent deployed. It also provides youth with an opportunity to create a positive relationship with caring adults, which is a hallmark of the 4-H program for the last hundred years. During times of parental deployment, this consistent presence of 4-H leaders and the feelings of belonging that come with 4-H membership promise to be crucial elements of the overall support system needed to serve youth . . . whether they wear olive drab, bright blue or 4-H clover green.

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension; 4-H USDA Military Grants

Conact Name: 
Lisa Lauxman
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

301 Forbes, PO Box 210036

Tucson, AZ 85721-0036

Tel. 520-621-7131 Fax 520-621-1314