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County's 4-H program is worth raising cash to save

January 25, 2002

County's 4-H program is worth raising cash to save



The Jefferson County, W.Va. Extension Service Committee faces the loss of a full-time 4-H agent unless it can persuade West Virginia University not to cut the position or find salary money elsewhere. We urge the community to do what it takes to keep the program fully staffed.

On Wednesday, representatives of WVU met with the group to say that they have no money to fill positions that become vacant and face a 3 to 5 percent statewide cut in their extension service program. The post became vacant Dec. 31 with the retirement of Jim Staley, who'd held the post since 1972.

WVU officials offered an alternative in which Jefferson County would receive an assistant, who would work in Jefferson County under the supervision of the Morgan County extension office.

But under this scenario, the post would pay only $21,000. We agree with Pete Walker, the local committee's chair, who said that such low pay wouldn't draw good candidates. WVU officials said the county would pay 70 percent of that total, with the county kicking in 30 percent, or more if it wanted to up the salary.

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We believe Jefferson County should try to fund a full-time agent. The first step is to persuade WVU to kick in the $14,700 it would pay toward the assistant's post to the $34,000 to $37,000 the full-time post would require. That would leave about $22,300 to be raised locally.

Since the program serves about 500 youths and young adults, that would mean raising about $5 for each participant. Some who can afford it would pay out of pocket, but others could be sponsored by local businesses or individuals who don't want to see the program's character-building benefits lost.

Finally, the whole amount could be secured through a fund-raiser, with youth participating in selling raffle tickets or whatever is needed. It will be a lot of work, to be sure, but the alternative is allowing the program that agent Staley built to wither on the vine.

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