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By Ivy Sibley

The Marion County Commission recognized Alabama Extension professionals for their outstanding service to the county's 4-H program at the Commission meeting July 13.

"It is an honor and a privilege for the Marion County 4-H Club Program to receive Alabama Extension's System Centennial Youth Initiative Designation," said Lisa Murphy, Extension coordinator for the county. "This designation signifies that the 4-H Program in the county is addressing the needs of its youth today."

Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, presented the Marion County Extension team with a Crystal Clover and individual medallions of excellence to the 4-H team. Marion is one of 12 counties in Alabama designated as a Centennial Youth Initiative county. Other counties include, Baldwin, Bibb, Cherokee, Dale, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Mobile, Pike, Shelby and Washington.

"It's an honor to be able to work with these Extension professionals and see first-hand the impact that they are making in the lives of youth in Alabama," said Brown. "They have accomplished a lot this year within the county's 4-H programming, which I am certain will impact youths for years to come."

The Centennial Youth Initiative (CYI) is committed to developing 4-H programs in Alabama to increase access so that more youth can participate in the program, and to enhance the learning experiences that are available to youth. 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

In addition to the award of CYI county status, Marion County will be assigned a full-time 4-H Foundation agent.

Murphy stated that of the areas of excellence, the Marion County 4-H program has excelled in forming a unified 4-H team and program, which has helped the staff diversify its delivery modes to better meet the needs of today's youth.

There are 55 in-school and volunteer-led 4-H clubs in Marion County with 1,608 youths enrolled in the programs. In addition to the enrolled club members, 516 youths have been reached through the enriching programs offered throughout the county.

"This new era of 4-H youth development will create opportunities for future generations through contemporary learning experiences that emphasize character values, goal setting and personal exploration," said Murphy.