Many youths in King County will see 4-H programs end
By TRACEY COMPTON
Tukwila Reporter Reporter
February 12, 2012 · 8:16 PM
Starting Sept. 30, more than 10,000 youth in King County will be without their local 4-H programs.
The youth development organization fell victim to King County government budget cuts this year; its agreement and funding ends Jan. 30.
Now Washington State University’s Extension Program, which operates 4-H in the county, is providing funding until the fall along with some reserves from the county from last year.
More than 200 members in Renton, Kent and Auburn will be affected by this shutdown.
“It’s extremely sad; I’m disappointed to see leaders and youth who want it so bad,” said Nancy Basket. She is the WSU Extension educator, who coordinates the 4-H program in the county.
Basket has been a long-time member of the club and even her 87-year-old mother is a 4-H leader in Pierce County.
Basket coordinated the programs in Pierce County for 19 years. She was just starting her third year coordinating for 4-H in King County when she learned it was scheduled to close.
“It’s been really heartbreaking for me,” she said of having to turn away two or three people a day who want to join or start their own clubs.
Right now, members are finishing up their last year as 4-H leadership scrambles to find sustainable funding for the future.
The four Hs stand for “Head, Heart, Hands and Health” and the club has programs that cover a range of skills from working with animals to robotics, food nutrition, photography, creative arts and gardening to name a few.
Kim Giglio, a 4-H horse club leader, said it’s difficult to describe a 4-H member, but easier to describe the stereotype, which is a farm kid raising an animal for show.
“The program is very very broad and I think people don’t realize that,” Giglio said.
Within programs children range wildly in income levels and backgrounds.
Most of the kids in Giglio’s horse program don’t own their own horse.
She points out the diversity in the programs from a robotics group to a club called “Cooped Up in Seattle,” where city kids raise farm animals.
She thinks a lot of the inner-city kids involved in 4-H in the county won’t have the options other kids have in the suburbs to continue with an outlet like the 4-H, once it goes away.
“4-H is much bigger and broader than you realize,” Giglio said.
She started out as a club reporter growing up in Eastern Oregon. Giglio took news releases to her local paper, then was hired at that newspaper, which led to her pursuing journalism in college.
Giglio’s own daughter, Allison, has been in 4-H for 10 years and will pursue a degree in education due in part to the teaching experiences she had in the club.
King County will be the only county in the state without a 4-H program this fall, according to Basket.
The group is looking at their options which might include partnering with different agencies like the King County Housing Authority and the City of Enumclaw, Basket said.
“If we have to find a way to self-fund the program, we need over $100,000 a year,” she said.
4-H staff members in King County will be reassigned to positions in other counties.Contact Tukwila Reporter Reporter Tracey Compton at email@example.com or 425-255-3484.