One day 4-H Design Team receives 2011 Superior Service Award

COLLEGE STATION — The ‘one day 4-H’ design team has received a 2011 Superior Service Award from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

The award is presented to personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance or provide exceptional service to AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of The Texas A&M University System, according to award guidelines.

Members of the team include Dr. Chris Boleman, program director, Texas 4-H and youth development program; Dr. Toby Lepley, AgriLife Extension 4-H and youth development specialist; and various employees of AgriLife Communications.

“One day 4-H started from a doodle during a lunch meeting and is now the largest single day of community service conducted by a state 4-H program, and is expanding across the country,” said Dr. Chris Boleman, who was instrumental in coordinating and administrating the statewide effort. “The projects they are doing may not be the same as other clubs or counties are doing, but across the state they make significant differences during that single day.”

Boleman said one day 4-H grew from the Texas A&M University ‘Big Event’ concept and quickly developed into a statewide initiative to get 4-H members, clubs or county programs to identify, plan and implement service projects unique to their communities.

“With an idea in hand, a team of AgriLife Communication specialists was recruited to ‘dream a dream’ of how this idea could be introduced, marketed, and brought to fruition,” he said. “Both 4-H and AgriLife Extension saw the future potential impact that such a program could have, not just on the youth involved and those they are helping, but also for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.”

Boleman said AgriLife Communications one day 4-H team members worked around the clock to develop a marketing plan, create a logo and produce an introduction video to be premiered at the 2009 Texas 4-H Roundup.

“All this was done in just six weeks from the time the idea was developed,” he said.

According to the award nomination, the team-identified tasks with each member focusing on those tasks best suited their professional expertise, which included graphic design, videography and scriptwriting. Additional media pieces were later developed, as was an informational booklet and an initial one day 4-H website.

Boleman and Lepley worked to secure funding for promotional pieces, developed the recognition process, created and sent emails blasts promoting “something new and exciting.” They also arranged for Texas 4-H Roundup to have a special night of excitement and entertainment surrounding the announcement.

According to the award nomination, one day 4-H not only provided opportunities for community service, it also helped dispel the perception that today’s youth are self-absorbed and apathetic about their community.

Working with other community and youth organizations, businesses, city and county elected officials and others, in 2009 the Texas 4-H Program had more than 9,400 youth and adults participate in 264 one day 4-H projects across the state. In the three years since its inception, the program has continued to expand, and to-date more than 28,600 youth and adults have participated in 664 service projects, contributing almost 250,000 hours of volunteer service to their communities and reaching more than 764,000 Texas residents.

During these efforts, they collected more than 124,000 pounds of food, made and delivered more than 12,000 care packages, and have cleaned more than 150 miles beaches and roads statewide. They also have raised more than $285,000 for causes and other organizations and provided more than $190,000 in in-kind donations.

“While one day 4-H is a service-learning project where youth help others in their communities, it is also an educational experience for the youth involved,” Lepley said.  ”It teaches core life-skills such as: concern for others, empathy, sharing, leadership, responsible citizenship, teamwork, critical thinking and character development, just to name a few.

“It’s great to see how helping their communities enhances their personal growth by developing a stronger sense of community, generating positive feelings, influencing others in the community to become involved and working in teams toward a common goal.”

In addition to the impact of the number reached, served, involved, and money raised, the positive emotional impact that one day 4-H has had on those who have benefited is limitless, Boleman added.

“While many of the original one day 4-H Design Team members are no longer with AgriLife Extension, the creativity, innovation, and determination of the group truly continues every year on that particular Saturday of National 4-H Week,” he said. “One day 4-H continues to be embraced by our agents, 4-H members, volunteers and partnering organizations.”

He added that the success and impact of one day 4-H has been presented on both a regional and national level through Extension professional associations, and that the concept and the way it was marketed had already inspired three additional states to begin similar one day 4-H programs.

“While each of these states may have set different days for their day of service, each has credited Texas for creating this outstanding youth development and opportunity for service in their state,” he said. “In 2012, Oct. 13 will be the fourth annual one day 4-H, and expectations are high, but so is the energy and anticipation of the variety of projects.”

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