A Cooperative Extension program that helps hard-to-reach and at-risk youth in Adams County was recognized Oct. 16 with an award honoring diversity. The Diversity Award is given each year by Colorado State Cooperative Extension to one of its programs that shows an exceptional commitment to reaching diverse audiences and that embodies the organization’s mission to support and educate a diverse audience within the state.
Adams County, with 18.5 percent Hispanic, 3.2 percent black, 2.5 percent Asian, 75 percent white and 0.15 listed as other populations, is an ethnically diverse area, with both a large urban population and large rural areas.
Tom Fey, Colorado State Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agent in Adams County, developed two programs to reach more diverse audiences: The Urban Farm and after-school programs with Thornton Elementary and Thornton Middle Schools. These two programs introduced urban youth to the rewards of caring for animals while providing an opportunity for the youth to gain leadership and life skills in a club setting with their peers. The programs enhance the traditional club program and educate youth and families of Adams County that are not familiar with the 4-H program.
"I am pleased to recognize Tom Fey for his contributions to the diverse youth of Adams County," said Milan Rewerts, director of Colorado State Cooperative Extension. "These programs are excellent examples of how we can reach out to the diverse youth of our communities. The programs teach youth leadership and give them self-confidence."
The Urban Farm program, or the TUF club, started with Embracing Horses, which brought Denver urban youth from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds – most of which are economically disadvantaged – to a farm to learn horsemanship. The project later developed into a 4-H club of 15 members.
The TUF club, which had a dozen members who wanted to explore a livestock project, were leased seven ewe lambs and five goat doelings that they were responsible for and which they showed at the county fair in the breeding show. The 4-H club members received three champions in the sheep show, one in the meat goat show and the heardsmanship award for the fair. These awards were the first positive acknowledgements these youth had ever received.
The TUF club, now comprised of 60 members, impressed the sheep and goat breeders so greatly that they were willing to provide the 60 livestock for this year.
The after-school program with Thornton Elementary and Thornton Middle Schools is in a low-income, ethnically diverse area where Spanish is the predominate language. The members of the elementary school club learn how to run a club using parliamentary procedure and public speaking by presenting project talks on rocketry and heritage arts. The middle-school club participates in junior leadership and uses skills learned by helping the elementary club and doing community service projects.
A summer program, in conjunction with Harris Park Elementary School, teaches community awareness and diversity. Harris Elementary and surrounding areas are comprised of one-third Hispanic, one-third Anglo and one-third Asian groups.
The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development program educational efforts impact approximately 16 percent of Colorado youth ages 6-18 years by increasing their resiliency and life skills, enabling them to resist participating in negative behaviors and to become competent, capable and contributing members of society.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension brings the resources of the university to you. As part of a nation-wide 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.