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State's 4-H Program Gains Ground in 1998
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- From a national advertising campaign to additional staff positions promoting youth activities, Mississippi's 4-H program has cause to celebrate.
"National 4-H Week is Oct. 4 through 11, but it seems like all of 1998 has been 4-H Year," said Dr. Susan Holder, state 4-H leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
At the State 4-H Congress meeting in June, Mississippi's Attorney General Mike Moore announced that $900,000 of the tobacco funds would be made available to improve Extension's ability to deliver effective programs to Mississippi youth though 4-H. The funding is geared toward educating young people about the dangers and adverse health effects of using tobacco.
"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.
Mississippi is taking part in a 4-H campaign developed by the National Advertising Council, creators of the memorable Smoky The Bear and Crash-Test Dummies commercials. During 1998, advertisements with the trademarked theme "Are You Into It?" were distributed to newspapers, and radio and television stations.
"This was a great year to bring more attention to Mississippi's 4-H program. We've been increasing our county staffs with five new youth agents and 11 new 4-H agent-in-training positions," Holder said. "These people will be on the frontline of the battle for youth across the state."
Last year, 71,016 Mississippians between the ages of 5 and 19 took part in 4-H programs. About 10,300 were members of the 633 community-based clubs across the state.
"The variety of programs available to youth today is a significant factor in enrollment. In addition to the traditional activities related to the farm and home, programs on the environment, shooting sports, character building and community service are drawing large numbers," Holder said.
Every October, youth flock to the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson to compete with their livestock projects against hundreds of exhibitors. Oct. 17 will be 4-H Day at the Trade Mart near the Coliseum. A talent competition and fashion show will take place during the day. The 4-H Leadership Team will be on-hand to explain programs available throughout the year.
"Animal projects have always been popular with youth. We are adding a equine specialist on the state level to help address the rapidly increasing interest in the horse industry," Holder said. "We've also been able to add a person at the state level to develop resources and increase private gifts and contracts to sponsor significant 4-H programs."