Shalayne Smith- Needham- Joining me is Brandon Summers, program coordinator for Utah State University Extension’s 4-H Mentoring program working with at-risk youth. Thanks so much for being here.
Brandon Summers- Yeah, thanks so much. I appreciate you guys having me on.
SSN- And let's start out talking first about the 4-H Mentoring program, what it is, and how this program differs from the traditional 4-H programs.
BS- So the 4-H Mentoring program actually began in 1994 out in Iron County, just in response to increases in juvenile delinquency. It actually was a pilot program for 4-H here in Utah, and then was rolled out throughout the United States.
So, Utah is actually the model program for mentoring. And it has expanded since then throughout the state of Utah and the different counties. So I work in Utah County and our program works with youth that is considered more at-risk. We match them up with a volunteer mentor. The mentor acts as a role model, guide, and friend, Kind of like a big brother big sister to them, and establishes that relationship and just so they can be that role model and that example to them.
Our mentoring program in Utah County has been around for the last 20 years and has been a great model program nationally for 4-H.
SSN- You were recently awarded two grants by the United States Department Office of Justice and Juvenile Delinquency Prevention. Tell us a little bit about each grant and how the 4-H mentoring program will utilize this funding to reach out to youth and families.
BS- We were thrilled to find out that we were awarded both of these grants to continue our services, not only in Utah County. One of these two grants will be statewide. Will work in Utah County, Duchesne County, and Iron County to reach approximately 500 youth. The other grant will also increase our services to reach youth in Utah County and Duchesne County. We’re really excited about that.
Youth grant awards are actually only awarded to a handful of programs across the country, specifically mentoring programs that are working with at risk youth more on the prevention side of helping to prevent youth from falling into substance use and opioid use.
Of course, there's the opioid crisis. And so our goal with these grants is to work with youth that is concerned more at risk of falling into the association that might lead them to assess serious or opioid use.
And so, our goal is to place a mentor in the home to help the families and the youth to avoid that. That's going to be the overall goal of the grant
SSN- Your website is utahcounty4h.org, what would you say to families to encourage them to get involved?
BS- The program is free enrollment to any families in the counties I mentioned Utah, Duchesne, or Iron county. We work specifically with kids between the ages of nine to 15. And we match them with a mentor for a year. We also work a lot with the families we provide monthly activities for the families. Obviously with COVID-19 right now, we've had to adjust some of our programming and events, but we're hoping to get posts started here soon.
And if anyone's ever interested in learning more, they can visit our website at utahcounty4h.org. There's additional information under our youth programs and they can learn more about our programming.