AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Students jump for joy when school is out for summer, but some parents worry about their children having a long break from school. Never fear—the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama 4-H have this problem well in-hand. Summer programs for children are just a small portion of regularly scheduled events in communities across the state. However, they are some of the most impactful events for Extension.
Alabama 4-H offers overnight and day camp opportunities at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana, Alabama. However, these are not the only options available for youth in Alabama. Many county Extension offices offer summer camp and summer programs. Autauga County is one of many that is providing summer programming for both rural and urban areas in the county.
Darrue Stewart, Autauga County Extension coordinator, said their summer programming offers children of all ages the opportunity to learn and thrive in a fun environment.
“We provide summer day camps for 4-H youth, as well as a new community initiative program for children of all ages in Billingsley,” Stewart said.
Serving Up Biscuits
Kacey Powell, the 4-H Foundation regional agent in Autauga County, and the Autauga County 4-H team have hosted day camps on Tuesdays throughout the summer. Topics range from rocketry and archery to smoothies and yoga. In mid-July, Powell and 4-H members cooked biscuits with Stacey Little, of The Southern Bite. Little visited Prattville to teach 10 campers how to make down-home Southern biscuits at the Central Alabama Community College (CACC) campus.
“The opportunity to learn a useful skill like cooking in a fun environment was something I don’t think the kids will forget any time soon,” Powell said. “This 4-H day camp was really a community partnership. I am thrilled to see local businesses supporting local children as they learn and grow.”
Use of the cooking kitchen was donated by CACC. Ingredients for the biscuits were donated by Food Outlet and Winn-Dixie in Prattville. Local honey was also donated by Alan Mills of Prattville Honey Farm.
In Autauga County, art camp is on the horizon. Many young people in the Prattville area are also participating in archery programming through a community enrichment partnership with YMCA day camps.
Autauga County is Serving Families
While 4-H members are enjoying programming at the local YMCA and at day camps, Autauga County 4-H Agent Assistant Kim Johnson is conducting programming at a rural library. These library programs are reaching children ages two to 18. However, the programming has been exciting enough to also attract several grandparents.
Johnson said she is thrilled to be part of the first Extension experience these children encounter.
“The opportunity to meet with children and parents in Billingsley is so rewarding,” Johnson said. “I enjoy the children and sharing the program materials. I hope that we are building a relationship between our office and these children that will last a lifetime.”
Stewart said the need for the library partnership came from a discussion at the 2021 grassroots meeting.
“We are so pleased to have a partnership with the Billingsley Community Library,” Stewart said. “This program has been such a success this summer that we hope to partner with rural libraries in Autaugaville and Marbury next summer.”
Opportunities Throughout Alabama
There are opportunities to engage in Extension and 4-H programming in each Alabama county. Start by visiting the Alabama Extension website and checking the calendar for an event in your area. County Extension and 4-H Facebook pages are also good places to check for upcoming events in your area.
Stewart said that each county Extension coordinator knows that it is vital to connect with other community organizations and maintain positive relationships to benefit each person in the county.
“These outreach programs enable Autauga County to fulfill Extension’s mission of improving the lives and economic well-being of a community,” she said.
As summer comes to a close and the school year gets underway, summer programs are still available for young people. Contact your local Extension office to find out which programs are available in school and after school in your community.