Wyoming 4-H Foundation 2013 donations increased | TSLN.com

Wyoming 4-H Foundation 2013 donations increased

Wyoming State 4-H Foundation donations to counties increased by more than $53,000 in fiscal year 2013 for a total of $241,041.

The foundation and the 4-H program work to expose Wyoming's 7,000-plus 4-Hers 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.

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, the foundation'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.

Long-term is the goal of foundation efforts.

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The $53,000 increase in FY13 was due in part to successful fundraising events but also due to a generous long-term benefactor.

The foundation board got together and took a big chunk of that money and started a matching program for the counties, Despain 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 county programs 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.

"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."

"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

–UW Extension