Wyoming county 4-H programs have received nearly $188,000 from the Wyoming State 4-H Foundation this past year.
The foundation also provided more than $23,000 in awards for state-held contests.
Benefits were based only on events taking place during the fiscal year.
“The 4-H program offers a wide variety of educational opportunities for young people in Wyoming,” said Steve Mack, director, Wyoming State 4-H Foundation. “The more that youth are engaged and participate in those opportunities, the more likely that youth from their county 4-H program are receiving benefits from donations to the foundation.”
During the last fiscal year, the foundation supported youth programs including meat judging, wool judging, horse judging, livestock judging, the UW Showcase Showdown, shooting sports and the state leadership team.
The Wyoming State 4-H Foundation is a non-profit corporation and is the only official state organization sanctioned to support 4-H youth programs and education in the state.
The foundation is funded by citizens and companies, according to Mack.
“It’s all about the young people and being involved not only on a county basis but also that they take advantage of the opportunities Wyoming 4-H has on the state level,” he said.
The foundation is connected to the University of Wyoming (UW) through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UW Extension.
“4-H is funded as a partnership between government and the private sector,” said Johnathan Despain, state 4-H program coordinator. “UW Extension is the government side, while the state 4-H foundation is the private side. The state 4-H foundation helps to raise funds for expenditures associated with delivery of educational opportunities.”
The foundation provides support to the 4-H programs in all 23 counties and the Wind River Reservation; programs focus on four main areas: educational programming; scholarships; out-of-state trips and contests; and recognition and awards.
“Without the 4-H foundation, the developmental needs of the young people could not be met because there wouldn’t be the resources to ensure the opportunities exist,” said Despain.
Financial support for 4-H county programs and their youth provide college scholarships, programming grants, awards and recognition, and out-of -state trips including Citizenship Washington Focus, Denver Roundup, National Conference and National Congress.
Federal funds cover employee salaries, overhead and costs for some programs, said Despain, but are not enough.
“The foundation provides the needed resources to fill in gaps of underfunding and for any new needs that occur – which are ever-expanding,” he said. “Many opportunities would not be available to young people without the financial support of donors to the 4-H Foundation.”
Grants supported by the foundation included Workforce Prep, Youth in Governance, Career Development, Helen Miller, Shooting Sports, Sport fishing, CommunityPride and Small Animals.
The awards money pays for plaques, silver trays, trophies, special gifts and cash awards.
“The awards benefit the entire state and are won by contestants from throughout all of Wyoming’s county 4-H programs,” said Mack.
Despain reiterated the importance of the foundation and its connection to UW Extension.
“Our partnership is critical to the future for the 4-H program,” he said. “Donations to the foundation are tax-deductible as far as the law allows.”
Despain said that the 4-H foundation is rated high among 501(c)(3) organizations for turning donations into benefits for the youth it serves.
“That means the money really goes to directly benefitting the youth,” said Despain. “Our program is growing, reaching new and underserved audiences, which means the financial need is greater than ever to continue to create low-cost opportunities like club programming, camps, clinics, workshops, etc., which the foundation provides – please donate.”