Funding infusion could keep local 4-H programs afloat

July 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Local 4-H youth programs could receive a $100,000 infusion to continue, if King County Council members approve a request from County Executive Dow Constantine.

The proposal is meant to continue 4-H programs — horseback riding, county fair exhibitions and other agrarian pursuits — through the year.

Constantine sent a budget request for the funds to the council June 27. The proposal earned early praise from council members, including the Issaquah-area representatives, but requires approval before the 4-H organization receives the dollars.

The proposal also aims to re-appropriate $16,000 in funding from last year to King County’s partner in 4-H programs, Washington State University.

“More than 10,000 young people in King County gain valuable life experiences through 4-H, and this funding will keep the program going in collaboration with our partners at WSU Extension,” Constantine said in a statement.

The funding comes from the general fund — the source of dollars for elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions.

Funding for 4-H is used for numerous activities in addition to traditional activities, such as horseback riding. Other 4-H activities include environmental stewardship, photography, plant sciences and robotics.

Officials said the 4-H program could use the county dollars to leverage additional funding.

“This funding would ensure continuation of the King County 4-H youth development program and nutrition education programs, and provide a strong framework for other WSU Extension programs in agriculture, natural resources, health and wellness, and economic development to continue,” Randy Baldree, WSU Extension interim associate director, said in a statement.

Local 4-H programs received a funding infusion from the county in December 2009.

The last-minute, $109,000 infusion from the council kept the program afloat for a year.

The step also meant Local 4-H’ers had somewhere to showcase handiwork. In 2009, council members allocated $50,000 to continue the King County Fair — the oldest fair in the West.

The most recent proposal earned support from the Issaquah-area representatives on the council, Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn.

“Young people all over the county have an opportunity to learn important life skills through 4-H programs,” Lambert said in a statement. “The ability to participate in activities at the county level can qualify them for statewide competition. Youth agriculture programs offered by 4-H also help grow the farmers of tomorrow that will produce our food in the future.”

Lambert represents the city and large rural areas in East King County. Dunn represents the rural areas south of Issaquah.

“4-H youth programs have played an important role in the lives of many young people throughout King County,” Dunn said in a statement. “I am pleased that Executive Constantine has proposed this much needed funding to keep these programs going into the future.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

 

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