This past week, I had a neat opportunity to attend the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education awards banquet. In cooperation with members of the K-State Watershed staff, Hays Water Department, and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, a group of young people dove into a journey last year and that work of establishing a 4-H2O Ambassador program was recognized by KACEE.
Helping youth to find their spark is invigorating and provides opportunities to help make our world better in so many ways. Sparks are skills, talents, and interests that motivate a young person to change or improve themselves and the world around them by giving them a sense of direction and encouraging goal setting!
This program started in late 2020 with four young people from Barton and Ellis Counties who spent two days learning about water treatment, management, and conservation. While increasing their knowledge of all things water, they also honed their presentation skills to prepare for working with the public at a variety of events.
Those initial four did a great job of helping at multiple events at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and in Hays. They have family-friendly and youth-focused learning activities for these events.
In 2022, the first four returned and we added three additional youth to the group. They have been through two days of training and work diligently to improve their presentation skills for events. If you would like for the 4-H2O Ambassadors to speak to your group, contact the Cottonwood Extension District in either the Barton or Ellis County offices, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, or Holly Dickman with the City of Hays. We will open applications in the fall for a new class of Ambassadors and they don’t need to be enrolled in 4-H!
Programs like the 4-H2O Ambassadors are one of my favorite things about working in 4-H! 4-H offers nearly 40 different project areas from Art to Woodworking and each area has the potential to create a spark. Some 4-H members may try a dozen different projects over a few years before finding 3 or 4 that really resonate. Others may find a couple of project areas that they are passionate about very early and work and learn in that area over eight to ten years.
Is there a young person in your world who is looking for their spark? If so, give me a call!
Keep learning. Keep showing grace and kindness.
Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Agent for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other 4-H Youth and Development related questions email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-793-1910.