St. John Parish’s new extension associate ready to connect
Published 12:09 am Saturday, January 23, 2016
EDGARD — St. John the Baptist Parish has a new 4-H extension associate.
Victoria Kendrick, who graduated in May from Virginia Tech, is excited for the opportunity to build relationships with area children and learn what their interests are.
“I don’t want to have a program that they don’t like or they don’t have any interest in,” she said. “I’m excited to help the kids grow and try new things to become better-rounded people.
“I want to also build up the programs that we have so there are more opportunities for kids on the weekends. That is a long-term goal.”
Kendrick said 4-H is part of the LSU AgCenter, because LSU is a land grant university with three missions.
“One is extension, which is basically part of the university’s responsibility to share information with the community and the people in it, and 4-H is a program for that,” Kendrick said.
“Basically it is taking the knowledge from the university and sharing it with the kids.”
Kendrick said 4-H is a community based club and youth organization for those fourth through 12th grade.
“There are school clubs, where the kids meet at the school, and there are project clubs. Basically, they are for the youth in the community to grow, learn and build friendships,” she said. “They get to try new things and explore their interests.”
Kendrick said there are clubs in 15 private and public schools in St. John Parish, adding LSU shares its resources with the 4-H programs.
“We have a sewing workshop, I can go up to LSU and I can get a bunch of sewing machines,” Kendrick said. “Or they can send us material for us to give the teachers. They do things like that.”
For the program to run more efficiently volunteers are needed.
“We have the sewing workshop March 5th,” Kendrick said.
“I don’t know how to sew, so there is a volunteer that is going to teach the kids that come how to sew. Volunteers can attend the 4-H meetings at a local school and help facilitate the conversation and make sure things run smoothly. They can lead workshops; once they go through training and background checks, they can supervise overnight trips and field trips. It’s endless what volunteers can do.”
At the moment the organization is hoping to start a shooting sports program and looking for anyone with knowledge on the subject or enjoys the sport and working with children.
Kendrick believes 4-H participation allows the youth to become part of a community and form bonds of friendship and acceptance.
“They have people supporting them,” she said. “They can stay out of trouble. It allows the youths to feel important, learn leadership skills and they have the opportunity to grow and try new things.”
Biarnetta Bell has been with extension for 13 years, two with 4-H.
She started as a parent educator, then when the position for program assistant came up, she took it.
Bell said 4-H leads multiple projects and seeing the excitement in children is great.
“They look forward to things like participating in the cookery for the Andouille Festival, meeting community representatives and the school gardens,” she said. “The kids really like working with the school gardens.
“They like seeing the finished products of what they plant and get to sample things. I have a passion for exposing youths to a variety of things. We see the results of introducing kids to different things and getting them to open their minds and think out of the box.”
Volunteers must be at least 18 and have an interest or passion in working with St. John the Baptist Parish children. Those interested are encouraged to call 985-497-3261.