Wyoming State 4-H Foundation donations to counties increased by more than $53,000 in fiscal year 2013 for a total of $241,041.
There are more than 7,000 Wyoming 4-H’ers. The foundation and the 4-H program work to expose youths to subjects like animal science, technology and natural resources. 4-H’ers gain life skills such as self-confidence and problem solving.
The foundation is a non-profit organization and the fundraising arm of the 4-H program, said University of Wyoming 4-H Program coordinator Johnathan Despain.
“Its sole purpose is to generate income, take in donations and do fundraising to support the 4-H programming efforts,” he said.
Wyoming 4-H is celebrating 100 years of the partnership between the USDA, land-grant universities and state and county governments. Despain said funding has been reduced by those institutions, and 4-H has been able to regroup, but now more than ever, thefoundation’s role is critical.
“At some point in time, the program will either go away, or people are going to have to step up to make the program happen and figure out long-term sustainability plans,” he said. “We’re trying to, through the foundation, create those plans so our programs can continue on … so the kids always have the benefit for the long-haul.”
Long-term is the goal of foundation efforts.
The $53,000 increase in FY13 was due in part to successful fundraising events but also due to a long-term benefactor who died and left a large amount to the foundation.
Despain explained how the foundation turned some of that money into a matching program with county 4-H programs.
“The foundation board got together, and they took a big chunk of that money and started a matching program for the counties,” he said. “If the counties will fund-raise up to $10,000, they’ll match it for every county in the state 4-H program, endowed in the foundation, where the income of that is theirs to spend in their countyprograms forever.”
Despain said the counties have two or three years to take advantage of the program and hopes there will be enough money for the matching program again.
Excluding the match, a county receives foundation money based on its number of youth participants. Despain gave the example of the annual Showcase Showdown in Laramie.
“They pay some registrations fees, but the foundation offsets the cost of that through all of their donations,” he clarified. “They attribute it back to each county by saying, ‘Well, you brought 32 youths, your donation in effect is $3 for each youth – so there’s $96.”
Last year’s benefits ranged from the low-end in Hot Springs County at $979 to more than $25,000 in Sublette.
Aside from raising funds through events like the Platte River and Apache Clear Creek Shootouts, foundation donations are collected from private and corporate businesses and individuals.
The money helps with statewide and national trips, competition, educational programming, scholarships and awards. Not included in FY 13’s total donation amount was another $28,000 for recognition in the forms of medals, plaques and other awards.
Despain stressed the importance of 4-H in the lives of thousands of Wyoming children and teens, and shared the significance of statistical research showing this program makes a difference and is successful compared to other youth programs.
“Youths in the 4-H program get better grades in school, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors, are more likely to graduate from college and more likely to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers,” he explained. “With all these statistics now, we can prove that our kids benefit whereas in the past we used to say ‘well isn’t that such a good program.’ We can prove it now, which is great.”
Despain believes the values of the general public and 4-H match – both want to see youths succeed and excel.
“We want the 4-H program for the next hundred years… and the only way it’s going to be that long-term is for the general public to provide that support – to see the value in the program.”
Benefit totals (to nearest dollar) to counties this year are:
Albany – $15,549
Big Horn – $16,952
Campbell – $13,616
Carbon – $5,520
Converse – $9,185
Crook – $16,006
Fremont – $9,034
Goshen – $17,861
Hot Springs – $979
Johnson – $6,010
Laramie – $14,068
Lincoln – $7,496
Natrona – $5,960
Niobrara – $9,925
Park – $5,879
Platte – $4,039
Sheridan – $14,181
Sublette – $25,226
Sweetwater – $2,932
Teton – $13,841
Uinta – $19,154
Washakie – $3,224
Weston – $5,404