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Tobacco Money To Support State 4-H
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore handed state 4-H leaders a ceremonial check for $900,000 June 10 night, with the promise that the real money will follow shortly.
"I bring tonight your portion of a million dollars," Moore told the about 850 4-H youth, volunteers and staff at the close of 4-H Congress at Mississippi State University. "Your portion is $900,000 to help me get involved and save young people."
The money is a part of the settlement Moore negotiated last July with the tobacco industry, but is a separate $62 million from the $3.36 billion the state will receive. It is earmarked for the MSU Extension Service to fund certain aspects of 4-H during a two-year pilot program.
"We were looking for statewide participation, people who had resources in place, who were serving young people and who were excited about what they do," Moore said. "This is the best investment we can make for the future of Mississippi."
Moore said working with 4-H will be a good partnership.
4-H needs funding to support programs and "we needed an army to fight for tobacco control," he said. "Kids make the decision to smoke the same way they make the decision to engage in other risky behaviors. It's all about healthy lifestyles and we want to reduce the number of young people who get involved in risky behavior."
Dr. Ron Brown, director of MSU's Extension Service, said the efforts of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, which administers the money, is a perfect match with 4-H goals. One of the program's four H's stands for health.
"The attorney general, with the support of legislative leaders, recognized the impact of 4-H as a vehicle for developing healthy lifestyles for young people," Brown said. "Keeping people from smoking and getting them to live healthy lives is a big part of what 4-H tries to do."
Dr. Susan Holder, state 4-H leader with MSU's Extension Service, said the tobacco funds made available through Moore's office will greatly improve Extension's ability to deliver effective programs to Mississippi youth though 4-H.
"Funding from the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi will enable us to reach more youth throughout the state with important programs designed to improve their health, especially in making important choices to not use tobacco and other drug products," Holder said.
Eleven new 4-H agents will be hired with this money, as will two new 4-H specialists and support staff members. 4-H programs, now for 8- to 18-year-olds, will be extended to reach 5-through 7-year-olds with non-competitive programs that introduce them to 4-H.
"More than 70,000 youth across the state are involved in 4-H with the help of more than 4,000 volunteers," Holder said. "This money will provide us an opportunity to reach even more."
The money from the pilot program will be transferred to the Extension Service for 4-H the last week of June. Moore promised another $900,000 next year.
Trey Bobinger, deputy attorney general, said the funding is geared toward educating young people about the dangers and adverse health effects of using tobacco.
"We want to fund those programs and activities that make a real difference in young people's lives and to carry out the goals and objectives of the partnership," Bobinger said.