Ask the 4-H Agent: Any opportunities for children of military families?
By KELLY ZERN, 4-H Youth Development Agent, UGA Extension Coweta County
Georgia houses nine installations of the United States military and 72 armories for the Georgia Army National Guard. Ranking 5th in the United States for military family population, there are military youth in all 159 counties of Georgia. In Coweta County, it is estimated there are 1,000 youth from active duty military families.
The University of Georgia Extension and Georgia 4-H play an important role in supporting our military families across Georgia. Lessons and activities designed specifically to support the unique needs of military youth including deployment, stress and coping, homecoming and fostering resilience are available in collaboration with a national program and curriculum called Operation: Military Kid. Counties that house military installations often offer on-base 4-H supported programming for military youth. Programming on base includes curriculum from Character Counts, Ready, Set, Go, and Up for the Challenge: Lifetime Fitness and Healthy Decisions.
Many of these on base programming curriculums were written with military youth as the intended audience. Counties near a base where military families may also live seek to incorporate these youth in local programming in a variety of ways.
The goal of 4-H Military Partnerships is to provide a sense of continuity during the difficult transition time of a permanent change of station. Military youth actively participating in 4-H should be able to find similar activities, no matter where their parent’s military career takes them. Georgia 4-H also seeks to provide statewide 4-H events and grant-funded camping opportunities for military youth in Georgia. Georgia 4-H Military Partnership also aims to coordinate with other 4-H programs around the country to ensure support is available to all military families.
April is celebrated across the country as the Month of the Military Child to honor the military child and highlight the challenges these youth may face. On April 15, citizens are encouraged to wear purple to show support of the youth and their families. Purple symbolizes all branches of the military as it is a combination of the colors of the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy.
To celebrate the month, Georgia 4-H is offering an art contest. Youth can submit photos of a piece of artwork including ceramics, photos, drawings, paintings, or other art forms by April 23, 2021 to be judged. To learn more about the contest, visit https://georgia4h.org/programs/focus-areas/citizenship/military-programs/purple-up-day/.
To learn more about Georgia 4-H and military partnerships, go to their website at https://georgia4h.org/programs/focus-areas/citizenship/military-programs/ or sign up for State 4-H Military Liaison Laura Goss’ blog at https://site.extension.uga.edu/military/.
Kelly Zern is the Coweta County 4-H Youth Development Agent. Her role includes overseeing all 4-H programming in the county including specialty clubs, S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) teams, volunteers, school clubs, and other 4-H programs and events. It is through her leadership and collaborations with community leaders that she can achieve Georgia 4-H’s mission to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of society. To find out more about our local programs, check out our website at ugaextension.org/Coweta, or find us on Facebook at Coweta County 4-H UGA Extension.