Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program set for summer debut

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

Contact: David Smith, 979-862-1989, davidsmith@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – The new Texas 4-H Water Ambassador Program kicks off this summer providing youth a wealth of experience about water resources and infrastructure while touring the Lone Star State.

The program is geared towards high school students seeking leadership skills and career preparedness, said David Smith, 4-H20 program coordinator with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, College Station. Ambassadors will gain insight into water law, policy, planning and management as they interact with representatives from state water agencies, educators, policy-makers and water resource managers.

“Water Ambassadors will also gain an appreciation for the complexity of managing Texas surface and groundwater resources, its importance to local, regional and state economies, and the responsibility we all have to protect this valuable resource for generations,” Smith said.

Applications are being accepted for high school age youth who will be entering grades 9-11 for the 2017-2018 school year. Application instructions and program brochure are available at http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/projects/water/​. Applications will be taken online through May 15. Thirty-two individuals will be selected and participate in a summer 4-H20 Youth Leadership Academy tentatively scheduled for July 8-16 in Austin.

“The first part of the program will be a training component held in mid-July. The goal, contingent on funding, is to have a 10-day tour of Texas,” he said. “After that, there will be a service component where the participants will go out in their communities, go back to their 4-H clubs and provide education, and also go to schools, Rotary clubs and host educational booths at fairs.”

Smith said one of the objectives of the program is to get the participants acquainted with water leaders in their communities and water conservation district officials.

“This program is a great opportunity for participants to become engaged in water issue discussions on local and larger scales,” said Dr. Dana Porter, AgriLife Extension program leader for engineering in Lubbock. “They will gain valuable knowledge and skills they can use to develop solutions to water needs in the future.”

Smith said Ambassador service credits can also be earned by participating in regular webinars and assignments such as interviewing local water officials in their communities. To help fund the program and educational tours, Smith said they are seeking sponsorships.

“We are hoping to get support from the industry, and we have received a few commitments already,” he said. “We are seeking these sponsorships to help fund travel throughout Texas and other learning opportunities as part of the summer program. Our goal is to get representation statewide in the 16 water planning areas. We’d like to see two representatives from each of these areas.”

Smith said he would like to see the initial 32 participants “engaged for about two to three years, and provide opportunities for advanced training beyond year one.

“Funding for this program will go through the 4-H Foundation,” he said. Sponsorship levels are signature, $5,000 and over, Legacy $2,500-$4,999, Advocate $1,000-$2,499, and Stewardship $500-$999. For more information, contact Smith at 979-862-1989 or email davidsmith@tamu.edu.

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