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By Ivy Sibley

The Bibb County Commission recognized Alabama Extension professionals for their outstanding service to the county's 4-H program, and the county was awarded the status of being a 4-H Centennial Youth Initiative County July 13.

Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, presented the County Commission Chairman and County Extension Coordinator Matthew Hartzell with a Crystal Clover and medallions of excellence to each person on the 4-H team.

Bibb County is one of 12 Alabama counties recognized with CYI status . Other counties include, Baldwin, Cherokee, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Marion, Dale, Mobile, Pike, Shelby and Washington.

"Our goal is to help every county earn the Centennial Youth Initiative designation and to have a full-time agent working in every county," Brown added.

"We are extremely grateful for the collaboration, support and contributions leading to this important achievement," said Matthew Hartzell, Extension coordinator for Bibb County. "We appreciate our valued stakeholders in the county and the growing number of 4-H youth participants and volunteers who have made this achievement possible."

In addition to the designation as a Centennial Youth Initiative (CYI) county, Bibb County will be assigned a new full-time 4-H Foundation regional agent. Funding for the new agent is provided by Alabama Extension and the Alabama 4-H Foundation.

The CYI program is committed to developing 4-H programs in order to increase access so that more youth can participate in the program, and to enhance the learning experiences that are available to youth in Alabama. The award is based on the following standards of excellence in Alabama 4-H programming:

  • Forming a unified Alabama 4-H team and program
  • Utilizing consistent research-based curriculum resources
  • Diversifying delivery modes tailored to today's youth
  • Promoting plan-of-work development and teamwork at all levels
  • Aligning staff and position assignments to support program resources and delivery modes

Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Extension said the dedication that these Extension professionals have shown when working with 4-H in Bibb County is very impressive." "They have accomplished a lot and fully exemplify the standards of excellence that are set out for this award."

Hartzell stated that through the dedicated work of the Extension professionals, 132 youth are directly enrolled in 4-H in Bibb County and more than 800 youth have been engaged in short-term, special interest and enrichment programming.

"As a learn-by- doing program, 4-H is filling a void in the early 21st Century by helping young people adopt skills and behaviors that will serve them and their fellow citizens well," said Hartzell. "Whether it's learning about recycling, the outdoors, planting a small garden, raising chickens, retaining meaningful employment, or living healthier lives, Bibb County youth have more opportunities to learn to improve their lives and those around them."

Dr. Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, presents Bibb County Commission Vice-Chairman James Kelly with the Alabama 4-H Crystal Clover. 

On hand for the Bibb County Extension 4-H Centennial Youth Initiative Designation Ceremony July 13 were: (L-R): Doug Rigney-Alabama 4-H Foundation board member, Sammy Holdsambeck-Bibb County commissioner and 4-H Advisory Committee member, Dorothy Grimes-Bibb County 4-H Advisory Committee member, Matt Hartzell-Bibb County Extension coordinator, Charity Battles-Bibb/Shelby County 4-H Foundation agent, Rita Dunn-Bibb County Extension administrative assistant, and Dr. Paul Brown-Alabama Extension associate director.