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Rhode Island 4-H Club Foundation Memorial Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
When it began in Ohio in 1902, 4-H offered “corn clubs” for boys and home economics clubs for girls. “Through the corn clubs, professors taught new ways of growing crops to farmers’ kids. It was an easy way to get research from the universities out to the farmers,” explains Kristy Horan, volunteer coordinator of Rhode Island 4-H, who says the earliest pictures of 4-H in the Ocean State are from the 1920s.

Today, Rhode Island 4-H offers 35 project areas, ranging from leadership and life skills to healthy living and from science/technology/environment to communications and expressive art. “4-H is youth driven, so the kids decide what to do. We train the adult volunteers and have a lot of curriculum for them to use, but the volunteers end up learning a lot of things with the kids as they go along,” notes Heidi Wright, program coordinator for Rhode Island 4-H.

Although the club’s programming has changed significantly through the decades, its connection to universities remains. “4-H is unique in that it is organized through the land grant institutions in every state. This provides us with a natural network,” says Marcia Morreira, state 4-H leader. In Rhode Island, the land grant institution is the University of Rhode Island and 4-H is part of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

Supporting the work of Rhode Island 4-H is the Rhode Island 4-H Club Foundation, created in 1958. Its executive director, Deborah Imondi, explains, “Through the Foundation, we do whatever we can do to supplement 4-H programs and provide scholarships, awards, recognition, and travel opportunities.

“The 4-H Foundation board decided to use this fund, consisting mostly of memorial gifts garnered over a number of years, to provide scholarships,” Deb continues, adding, “I certainly had known about the Rhode Island Foundation. The professional investment management and asset diversification the Foundation offers, we could never get that on our own.”

Susanna Camacho, treasurer of the 4-H Foundation board, agrees, stating, “We think of the Foundation as a safe and secure place, one that invests for a lot of nonprofits, and the investment return has been great. This gives us a return we can plan on each year.”
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