4-H Fix: $$ for 4-H!

$$ for 4-H!

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

I used to work in Maine. I left Maine to work “away” for a while back in 1999. Now I work here again!

My first day back with the UMaine State 4-H Office was August 24, 2015. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The breeze was light. The temperature reached all of 82 degrees F and it wasn’t even all that humid! It was a wonderful day. On that day I received quite a number of things: an office in Corbett Hall, new colleagues to get to know and work with, some office keys, lots of instructions, lots of forms to fill out, and two new titles. Yes, two new titles: “Statewide 4‑H Program Professional” and “Associate Director 4-H Resource Development.”

Some people don’t even have ONE title, I’m told, but I think most people have some kind of title: Doctor, Vice President, Mommy, Dean of Agriculture, Farmhand, Cook, Chief Bottle Washer (you know, I always thought that the last one was a joke until I saw it listed as someone’s occupation in a late 1800’s census report!).

Ron Drum's business cardA few weeks into the job, I also got little cards that included my titles, I guess so I can remember them. I give them to people. One fellow looked at my card, then looked at me, then looked at the card again and said, “You must be a very important person to have two titles!” Well, I don’t know about that, but they sure fill out the little card nicely! See?


I’ve been back in Maine now a year and almost two months. This first year was spent largely on the first of my two titles, “Statewide 4-H Program Professional.” Since I really haven’t focused a great deal on that second one yet, “Associate Director 4-H Resource Development,” I think I’ll start doing that right now.

Now anyone who knows about these things knows that when someone tells you they have the words “Resource Development” in their title, the next thing they usually do is ask you for money. Building resources for 4-H is critical for our future in Maine, so want to make a donation? (How am I doing so far?)

My work here in the 90s was all about getting 4-H’ers to events like Eastern States Exposition, Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C., National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, National 4-H Conference at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, MD; and it was all about helping to plan and implement events here in Maine for 4-H Members to attend like Maine 4-H Days, Maine 4-H Teen Conference, New England 4-H Teen Conference, and so forth.

When you do work as I did in the 90s, you quickly learn one thing: those programs are all expensive. I believe Susan Jennings, Maine 4-H Foundation Executive Director, told me that the Maine 4-H Foundation paid out something like $17,000 just to support Maine’s participation in this year’s CWF alone! When you start adding up all of these events, you also start adding up all the dollars it takes to help make these events happen! The University budget cannot support these events and the 4-H Staff at the same time so, for these programs to happen, we have to raise every dollar every year.

Two examples of play money created by 4-HersThe 4-H’ers, themselves, have covered some of their own costs through the years, and still do. However, “some” is just that: some. Besides, most of these events are an honor, so the cost should not be borne fully by the honorees! I tell you, it is a conundrum. We even had some 4-H’ers MAKE their own money (pictured at right), but we don’t suggest that option. Of course, it was only for use during a game of 4‑H Dairy Goat Jeopardy that was played at the first Maine 4-H Days in 1996. Both the game and the “dough” were the creations of Sarah and Judy Stoodley.

Evelyn Trotzky, Executive Director of the Maine 4-H Foundation when it was still called the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation back in the 90s, suggested the 4-H Community might be asked to help. After all, the thought went, who benefits from these programs if not the 4-H Community? So, the 4-H Community was asked for their support and they gladly gave it. Each year 4-H Clubs sent a donation — real money, not Billy Bucks — in support of state and national 4-H events to the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation. It was a real help! It’s how we afforded the 90s!

So think about it. If a 4-H Club donates $25 and members of that club attend one of these programs that costs $15,000 or more, that seems like a pretty good return on their dollars! If all of our 300 4-H Clubs each gave $60 to the Maine 4-H Foundation in support of these programs this year, the cost of the CWF experience would have been covered with $1,000 to spare!

I can hear Susan now, “This would be amazing!”

Lots of 4‑H’ers, 4-H Volunteers, and Extension Staff already give donations, and all of us who work with 4-H, professional or volunteer, are grateful for those gifts, as are the 4-H Members who directly benefit from those gifts. If each of our 2,000+ 4-H Volunteers made a $10 donation in support of these programs it would cover $20,000+ worth of these programs’ costs! If each of our 17,000+ 4-H Members sent the Maine 4-H Foundation just $5.00 each, it would equal $85,000 and more! Now, I know I am beginning to sound like a late-night TV commercial but it is TRUE! Little donations do make a difference!

So what if we ALL agreed to ALL give something annually, even just $10? The Maine 4-H Foundation trustees sure wouldn’t work less, they’d continue to work just as hard as they do now so even more 4-H members could benefit from these all so very important experiences!

And what if every 4-H Club made it a point, as part of their Community Service plan, to make an annual donation to the Maine 4-H Foundation in support of the Legacy Programs (the fancy name we give to Maine’s participation in the regional and national 4-H events)? Wouldn’t THAT be something?

To again use Susan’s words, “It’d be AMAZING!”

So how about it? Why not make a pledge today? Here’s how to do it.

Have you benefited from support provided by the Maine 4-H Foundation? If so, tell me how and what it meant to you, and, if you say I can use your comments, you may find yourself in a future 4-H Fix!!

Return to The 4-H Fix on December 2 to read about the “4-H Silver Cups of Franklin County”.

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.