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After-School Programs Get a Boost from 4-H

(PRWEB) May 25, 2006 -- As the number of families with two working parents continues to increase, so does the demand for high quality after-school
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 care for their children. Penn State Cooperative Extension’s is leading the way with its 4-H Afterschool Program.

 “  Many of the program’s curricula meet the Academic Standards and age appropriate.  
Part of the 4-H’s Afterschool Initiative, the program is providing schools across the Commonwealth with curricula, technical training and program support. According to Claudia Mincemoyer, assistant professor of agricultural extension and education
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, 4-H collaborates with other agencies to meet the critical need for after school care. “According to a recent report, for every dollar spent on after-school programming, a return of about three to four dollars is realized,” says Mincemoyer. “Our after-school program kits include hands-on learning opportunities that can help youth achieve social, emotional, physical and academic success while developing healthy lifestyles and behaviors.”

According to Mincemoyer, the resources and curricula from 4-H Afterschool program kits are easily accessible to parents, schools and other organizations. Topics include “Wildlife”, “I Spy in the Kitchen”, “Theatre Arts” and “Electricity”. “In addition, many of the programs are aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, which establish what students in Pennsylvania need to know in different subject areas,” says Mincemoyer.

According to Ed Bender, extension educator in the Capital Region, three new after-school kits are developed each year aimed at 5 to 12-year-olds. “Each county office in our region has the kits, and we can also loan them out to other offices in the state,” he explains.

The kits are easily tailored toward different age groups and contain a variety of hands-on activities. “In the Wildlife kit, kids can do fun activities like scavenger hunts and making finger puppets,” says Roxanne Price, extension 4-H Youth Coordinator. “Older kids can then do a skit with the finger puppets to incorporate role playing.”

Along with five or six different activities, each kit contains one or two storybooks related to the theme. “We encourage after school caregivers to focus on a theme for one week and do at least five different activities,” says Price. At the end of the program, each child is given a ribbon.

4-H provides program and youth development training for after school staff so they can implement the programs themselves. They also help schools start 4-H clubs in any existing after school program and can provide schools assistance in helping them start after school programs with support from 21st Century After-school Program funds.

In addition, 4-H provides School Enrichment programs for Pennsylvania schools. “Projects are designed to enhance classroom education
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 with experienced-based learning,” says Mincemoyer. “Many of the program’s curricula meet the Academic Standards and age appropriate. Lessons are taught either by Cooperative Extension staff and volunteers or teachers and school staff trained by extension using 4-H curricula. Topics include ‘Food Preparation’, ‘Aerospace Adventures’, ‘Pest Patrol’, and ‘Kids and Kash’.”

The programs seem to be catching on. In a Pennsylvania 4-H Afterschool Survey, approximately 73 percent of the responding schools said they have used 4-H materials in an existing after-school program, and 55 percent have established 4-H clubs. In addition, over 56,000 students have participated in the 4-H School Enrichment program, and another 2,100 students have participated in the Afterschool program. In addition to schools, 4-H has also collaborated with the YWCA, churches, Girls/Boy Scouts, the United Way, Salvation Army, libraries and environmental centers to deliver its programming.

For more information on 4-H Afterschool and Enrichment and programs, contact Mincemoyer at (814) 863-7851 or e-mail at e-mail protected from spam bots. You can also visit the national 4-H Afterschool web site at http://www.4hafterschool.org/, or visit the Pennsylvania 4-H Web site at http://pa4h.psu.edu/.

The mission of 4-H is to help young people become self-directed, productive, and contributing members of a diverse society. Pennsylvania 4-H is coordinated by Penn State Cooperative Extension. More information about 4-H can be found at http://pa4h.psu.edu/.


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