To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 20, 13 4-H AmeriCorps members spent Jan. 16 at Vegas Roots, an urban community garden in downtown Las Vegas, where they weeded and removed old roots and grass. At the same time, these young adults who normally help run 4-H youth programs learned about growing and composting, and how the community accesses and uses the garden. Two days later, 10 members gave rescued chickens a clean place to live while volunteering at Barn Buddies Rescue, which is a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue of abused, neglected or abandoned farm animals.
“While our members perform service daily, these particular efforts were different than a typical day of service,” Anel Rojas, 4-H Youth Development AmeriCorps Program coordinator, said. “We were happy to get out, get our hands dirty and do something impactful for the community.”
These days of service were performed by 4-H AmeriCorps members who are part of University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program’s 4-H Grows Here Project. These 4-H AmeriCorps members, who are mostly college students, were recruited to help 4-H extend the reach of the program by facilitating and delivering 4-H workshops and helping to establish and grow 4-H clubs for youth ages 5-19, especially among underserved populations.
“It meant so much to have a dedicated group to volunteer with us,” David McClenton, Vegas Roots manager and an agricultural engineer, said. “The work that was done was immeasurable! The connections invaluable.”
These volunteer projects not only provided an opportunity for members to give back, but helped identify opportunities for future 4-H youth education programs.
“By providing services to these organizations, we also discover new opportunities for future youth education programs that we do daily,” Rojas said. “Because of the proximity to Extension’s A.D. Guy Knowledge Center, we’re now considering working with Vegas Roots to have gardening and horticulture classes there for our 4-H youth.”
The 4-H Program is planning to hold three more days of service this spring in honor of: Cesar Chavez Day on March 31, Global Youth Service Day on April 24, and Join Hands Day on May 1. Organizations looking for volunteer support should email Rojas for consideration.
Additionally, as part of the 4-H Grows Here Project, the 4-H Program is still actively recruiting for an adult-parent leader position to commit to 300 hours of service through the end of July. Volunteers have the possibility of receiving a living allowance and are eligible for an educational award at the close of their service. For more information on the 4-H Grows Here Project, email Nora Luna, 4-H Youth Development Program coordinator.