According to a presidential report, the nation’s 4-H military program is one of the best in supporting military families before, after and during deployment.
“Strengthening the Military Family: An Interagency Review,” highlighted the partnership between 4-H and the military as a successful interagency initiative that assists military families. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense oversee the partnership.
Youth and adult programs offered
In Georgia, 4-H offers weeklong summer camps specifically for military kids, as well as year-round events like camp weekends and day events for military families. Georgia 4-H, part of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, also offers military staff members and volunteers training in youth and community development.
“University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has been one of the leading institutions in support of military service members and military families since the beginning of overseas contingency operations,” said Beverly Sparks, UGA associate dean for Extension.
Reaching thousands of military kids
Since 2003, Georgia 4-H has worked to support 4-H programming both on and off military installations in Georgia. Georgia 4-H coordinates the Operation: Military Kids initiative in the state and has enrolled 7,790 military youth, more than any other state.
“In addition to providing high-quality camping programs for military youth and teens worldwide at our five 4-H centers, our faculty and staff work to support the behind-the-scenes work of the 4-H military partnership at the national level,” said Arch Smith, state director of Georgia 4-H.
FCS supports families through good times and bad
In addition, UGA Extension family and consumer sciences specialists are leading a process to expand and support the Survivor Outreach Service program for the U.S. Army and their chaplains, which assists families through the grieving process. Other specialists assist military families in projects related to childcare and financial planning.
The efforts of faculty and staff in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and College of Family and Consumer Sciences will be highlighted at the DOD and USDA Family Resiliency Conference in April. UGA faculty are helping plan the conference and will provide educational workshops, program showcase and research sessions.