Over the years our Putnam County 4-H Junior Leaders have identified a need to expand their basic understanding of local government entities and what it takes to be an involved citizen of any community.
Some of the activity plans and learning experiences they have mastered are "The ABC's of Putnam County Elections", "Who Our Elected Official Are and What Areas They Serve", and "Where Did You Say to Go -- Left at the 'T'?" (a study of map reading and the 911 addressing system). In conjunction with these and other studies they have completed several community service efforts and look forward to the ones they will implement in the coming 4-H year.
As part of their program completion expectations the Junior Leaders are to attend at least one government board meeting. Identifying these groups has been a learning experience also.
In addition, Extension staff assists the group in compiling a list of possible community service projects and helps them coordinate their completion. The Junior Leaders work closely with other 4-H groups to facilitate additional community service such as painting the parking space lines and handicapped parking area at the courthouse annex, assisting the county veterans in placing American flags on the grave sites of local soldiers, planting flower beds across the county, reading to small children, and painting buildings at the fair grounds.
Through these experiences, the 4-H'ers have acquired a better understanding of the operation of local government, the election process, map reading, along with direction following skills. The new knowledge has carried over to school work and to extra-curricular activities such as FFA. They have gained a greater respect not only for their personal possessions and family but also for other county residents and property in general.
The Junior Leaders, who are 7th through 12th grade 4-H members, challenge fellow community residents to join them as they are "Learning While Serving"
You ask, "What can I do?" Their answer is, "Become one of the millions of caring adults and youth across America helping others learn leadership, citizenship, and life skills through community involvement." Discover your place in our community -- if the 4-H program is not a match for you, consider working with another groups of young people, assisting senior citizens, or helping with community projects throughout the year.
Volunteers of all ages are the heart of most community efforts. Often the challenge to completing the service process is deciding what to do -- "getting started". Potential volunteers are encouraged to connect with a variety of opportunities both through accessing written resources and through discusses with persons who are already involved or with those who are benefiting from a community service.
As our 4-H year begins to take shape, we ask that you consider becoming one of our hundred plus volunteers. The first step to complete is to call or stop by our Putnam County Extension office to pick up a volunteer packet that includes information about the 4-H program, the expectations of volunteers, and the application form.
In closing, I would like to offer a challenge to all our Putnam County high school age youth who have been involved in community service efforts -- whether as the one serving or the one receiving the service -- I challenge you to enter the Greencastle Rotary Club speech event. This year's speech topic is to be on "Service Above Self". Each speech must be at least five minutes long.
The local Rotary club will select a student speaker who will participate in the District Speech Event to be held at Ball State University on March 8. On the state level, the first place person will receive $ 500, the second place person will receive $ 250, and the third place person will receive $ 100. Contact me at the Extension office or any Greencastle Rotarian if you would like to learn more about this event.
Remember -- the seemingly smallest gesture of kindness has immeasurable value to both the person on the receiving end and the one who is "Learning while Serving".
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Lauralee Baugh is the Extension Educator in Putnam County. Contact her at 653-8411 or email@example.com Purdue Extension programs and staff can help you expand your knowledge base through a variety of opportunities.
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Lessons Learned is coordinated by the Putnam County Community Foundation. For information about the Foundation and its educational initiatives, call 653-4978 or visit the website at www.pcfoundation.org.