A collaborative agreement among University of Nevada, Reno Extension; Clark County; and Lincoln County will soon bring new educational and outdoor experiences to youth in southern Nevada.
The agreement, approved by the Nevada Board of Regents at its September meeting, will provide a venue for a 4-H camp and youth educational activities in southern Nevada, similar to the 32-acre Nevada State 4-H Camp at Lake Tahoe. Extension has operated that facility and provided camps and educational programs for thousands of youth there for more than 80 years.
The new 4-H Camp & Learning Center is located in the Lincoln County community of Alamo, about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. The 72-acre property was purchased this week from Leadership Possibilities International LLC, and is located at 1536 Alamo West Road. Previously used as a conference/retreat facility, the main building contains approximately 17,000 square feet with guest rooms, conference rooms and a commercial kitchen. The current layout contains 17 rooms that accommodate 72 guests, and has a variety of outdoor recreational amenities. For day use, the property can accommodate more than 200 guests.
“We wanted to have a facility for 4-H youth camps and hands-on outdoor learning in the southern part of the state for quite some time,” said Extension Director Jacob DeDecker. “Thanks to the hard work and generosity of our partners in Clark and Lincoln counties, youth in Las Vegas, as well as those in rural communities in the southern part of our state, will have more opportunities to experience the adventure, learning, fun and friendships that 4-H camps are known to provide.”
Extension and its partners in southern Nevada recognized that a large portion of Nevada’s youth were having only limited opportunities to camp experiences, with over 70% of the state’s population residing in southern Nevada and Clark County being the fifth largest school district in the nation. They say the need for such opportunities is greater than ever, as the pandemic continues to leave its mark on young people, with rising mental health issues, suicides, isolation, loss of learning and decreased school engagement. Extension and its partners say high-quality outdoor education programs can help reverse these trends.
“Our youth in southern Nevada need more opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors and learn,” said Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, one of the driving forces behind the project. “The camp is a game changer for so many in this valley. Nothing is better than taking our youth out of their neighborhood and showing them all that is available.”
Since 1930, Extension has been providing 4-H camps in Nevada, and 4-H camping has been an effective method of reaching, teaching and involving youth in outdoor education and leadership skills development. Today’s 4-H camps in Nevada provide engaging hands-on enrichment and align with the Nevada Academic Content Standards and Next Generation Science Standards to help improve academic proficiency. Extension has a network of 4-H professionals across the country from which to draw research-based programming and expertise, with 4-H being the country’s largest youth development organization. Research by Tufts University shows that 4-H youth are four times more likely to contribute to their communities, and two times as likely to plan to go to college.
Like the 4-H camps held at the facility in Tahoe, the programs at the new camp in southern Nevada will be run by trained professional staff, as well as enlist the help of skilled adult and teen volunteers, who will develop and implement programs, and supervise campers The 4-H camps will develop important life skills such as leadership, responsibility, communication, problem solving and critical thinking, while introducing youth to research-based activities within the fields of science, natural resources, robotics, agriculture and health, to name a few.
It has been challenging not only for Clark County youth to attend previous 4-H camps held up at Tahoe, but also for youth in other rural communities in the southern part of the state. The new camp in Alamo will make attending 4-H camp much more doable for many youth. For example, Lincoln County’s Caliente, Panaca and Pioche communities are only about 50 to 80 miles northeast of Alamo; White Pine’s Ely is about 150 miles north of Alamo; and Nye County’s Tonopah is about 150 northwest of Alamo.
“We were excited to help facilitate the process and for more youth to experience the vast experiences that Lincoln County has to offer,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Varlin Higbee, who has also been deeply involved in facilitating the project. “Our youth and youth in our neighboring counties will benefit tremendously from opportunities to participate in 4-H STEM and outdoor education activities. But most importantly, this facility will provide them with an unforgettable experience of fun and new friendships that they want to come back to every year.”
Extension already has a long-standing close partnership with Lincoln and Clark counties, as Extension in Nevada is a federal-state-county partnership, administered by University of Nevada, Reno, as a land-grant institution serving the entire state. Its funding comes from the USDA, the state budget and Nevada’s counties, as well grants and outside funding faculty and leadership obtain to support programming.
For more information on the 4-H Camp & Learning Center in southern Nevada, contact Sheila Bray, community partnership coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-257-5560. For more information on 4-H programs in the state, contact your local Extension office.