Colorado State University Cooperative Extension is initiating a minimal 4-H program participation fee that will be implemented Oct. 1, the beginning of the 4-H year. The fee ensures that the program can continue to provide excellent opportunities for youth across the state in light of budget reductions and an increase in enrollment in 4-H programs.
The fee is set for an initial three-year period, and fees are assessed on the total number of youth enrolled in 4-H clubs and special interest projects. Currently, most 4-H programs across the state do charge a minimal county-level participation fee and do recoup costs of printed materials by charging for them. Colorado is implementing a state $5 charge per club member and an additional $1 charge per enrollment in a special interest project. Curriculum, such as 4-H record and project books, also will increase in cost an average of 50 cents.
"The participation fees will generate resources to ensure continuity to the program support, management and special services offered through the state 4-H office," said Milan Rewerts, Colorado State Cooperative Extension director. "The fees will help to provide staff salaries, operating and travel budgets and internet technology. Without the fee implementation, the 4-H program would have been negatively impacted with the loss of employees, reduced 4-H projects and an inability to provide technology to staff, such as online registration and curriculum delivery and maintaining a state 4-H Web site."
The fees also will help the 4-H program remain connected to the Family and Youth Institute at Colorado State University. The Institute provides research and education to communities, policy makers and organizations that serve youth, families and seniors in Colorado. The revenue also will support professional development opportunities for 4-H agents and specialists.
"It’s unfortunate that, in the reality of today’s economic situation, we have to move in this direction. However, most government programs are becoming fee-based," said Doug Steele, Colorado State Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development assistant director. "And it’s our hope that we can maintain the 4-H Youth Development Program as one of the most cost-effective, highly efficient youth programs in the state."
Funds that are collected over these costs will also benefit 4-H through county-level grants for special projects.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension brings the resources of the university to you. As part of a nationwide system, we call upon the latest research to help Coloradoans learn more about gardening and commercial horticulture, healthy eating, personal finances, community resources, agricultural technology, food safety, dealing with changes in their community, family relationships and managing small acreages and natural resources. Our youth development program annually reaches more than 115,000 children in Colorado. Our 57 county offices, serving 59 Colorado counties, help people use university expertise on the job, at home and in their community.