Looking Back on the Past Nine Years
by Kaitlyn Peine, Community Health and Wellness Extension Agent
In January of 2013 I had the opportunity to move from the Johnson County Extension Unit to Douglas County. Soon after the transition, I knew I had made the right decision. Although I am not originally from Douglas County, I felt at home in this community. My office colleagues, 4-H volunteers, 4-H families, and community stakeholders all showed a shared effort of making strides to make Douglas County a better place for youth.
Reflecting on the past nine years, there are a couple of highlights that come to mind. The first success was the development of 4-H S.T.E.M. in Douglas County. Thanks to the Kansas 4-H Foundation and their Innovation Grants our program has received over $10,000 in grant funding to expand our 4-H S.T.E.M. programs. The funding has allowed our program to invest in laptops, robots, and tablets. We have hosted several robotic sessions for 4-H community club members through day camps and our community partners with special interest clubs that have allowed youth to explore the world of coding. We were even able to host robotics programs through the pandemic with our 4-H Robotics at Home series.
The second success I am proud of is our Youth Futures- College Within Reach program. Youth Futures is a program made possible by a grant from the National 4-H Mentoring Program. The mentoring program is hosted at Free State High School with their Advancement Via Individual
Determination (A.V.I.D.) classes. Over the past two years, 120 high school students and 26 mentors have participated in the Douglas County Youth Futures Program. Potential first-generation college students are matched with a mentor who is a current college student to
explore college and career readiness lessons. Students meet with their mentors for one hour each week. Youth Futures has allowed our 4-H Youth Development Program to reach a new audience while expanding our volunteer outreach.
My third highlight is our outstanding volunteers who serve as leaders for our 4-H program. The heart of the 4-H community club program is at the local level. Our ten 4-H clubs are led by gracious volunteers who share their time and talents with our youth. We also have dedicated volunteers who lead our countywide programs including 4-H Ambassadors, 4-H Dog Project Club, and 4-H Horse Project Club. Especially over the past two years, our volunteer leaders have stepped up to the challenge of continually adapting to serve our 4-H families. We are fortunate to have the best 4-H volunteers here in Douglas County.
It's been an honor to serve as your 4-H Youth Development Agent for the past nine years. Over the next couple of months, we will be hiring a new 4-H Youth Development Agent as I officially transition to the Community Health and Wellness Agent position. Although I will be in a different role on our team, I am looking forward to continuing to serve the Douglas County community.