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Toyota grant helps 4-H fund water-quality project
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Toyota is putting down roots in Mississippi with its new auto manufacturing plant near Tupelo, and the company also intends to influence the environment by funding a 4-H water-quality project.
In June, Toyota gave the $80,000 Mississippi Operation 4-H2O grant to the state's 4-H program. 4-H programs in California, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia received similar grants.
The program includes a new curriculum in environmental science and the launch of 4-H2Online, an interactive learning tool that teaches youth about water conservation issues. Toyota announced this $1.48 million grant in April.
Linda Mitchell, Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H youth development specialist, said these grants must be spent on educational efforts aimed at environmental education and awareness.
“Toyota is concerned with water quality and the environment,” Mitchell said. “The Tupelo site has been designated as environmentally conscious, and the company is in the position of having an impact on its employees and the community.”
Susan Holder, Extension state 4-H program leader, said 4-H is excited about this new partnership with Toyota that will fund science, engineering and technology programs.
“The best way to learn about the sciences is through hands-on activities. We will use this money to introduce some new programs to our youth,” Holder said. “This is an exciting way to get new audiences for 4-H.”
The grant from Toyota will help 4-H promote teen-adult partnership programs that can be used in clubs, classrooms, day camps and displays.
“This grant money will help us build a new level of technology with new curricula,” Holder said.
Mitchell said grant money will put new teaching materials in each Mississippi county office and will fund training and other efforts.
“It will allow us to do some things we've wanted to do,” Mitchell said. “We have recognized the importance of increasing our efforts to do more with environmental education.”
Before youth can learn and benefit from these water-quality and environmental programs, adult leaders must be trained in how to present them. About 75 of the state's 4-H agents met for three days in Tupelo in mid-August for their summer in-service training.
Amy Schmidt is a water-quality specialist and agricultural and biological engineer with the MSU Extension Service. She introduced 4-H agents to the Operation W.A.T.E.R. curriculum, which was purchased with Mississippi Operation 4-H2O money.
“This program covers much material and uses interesting, easy-to-do activities to show students such things as how different soil types support plant life, what makes up good soil, and about watersheds, run-off and drinkable water,” Schmidt said.
Navlean Pittman, Lawrence County 4-H youth agent participated in the training because she is trying to encourage youth to be environmental stewards.
“We're learning this curriculum so we can introduce it to our youth,” Pittman said.
Lisa Landon, George County 4-H youth agent, said her county's Junior Master Gardener clubs focus on many environmental issues.
“The Toyota grant will allow us to bring new opportunities to these young people,” Landon said.
Contact: Dr. Linda Mitchell, (662) 566-2201