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Georgia 4-H getting some extra help this year, hoping to improve the lives of more children By Merritt Melancon

Georgia 4-H clubs in 32 counties across Georgia will get some extra help this year thanks to a $439,357 AmeriCorps State grant from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service and the Georgia Commission on Service and Volunteerism.

AmeriCorps, a domestic program modeled after the Peace Corps, offers individuals the chance to make a difference in communities throughout the U.S. Through Georgia 4-H, an AmeriCorps State grant provides funding for positions to help improve the lives of Georgia youth. This is the fourth year that Georgia 4-H has received grant funding for the AmeriCorps State program.

While this is the fourth year Georgia 4-H has received the AmeriCorps State grant, the increase in this year’s award amount allows for the number of AmeriCorps members to grow from 16 to 32.

AmeriCorps members support Georgia 4-H’s mission of assisting youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. This includes providing programming that is aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards, covering topics such as STEM, career awareness and public speaking, said Jennifer Cantwell, AmeriCorps State program coordinator.

“The AmeriCorps State program has had a huge impact on Georgia 4-H’s programming,” Cantwell said. “Ninety-three percent of site supervisors believe that having an AmeriCorps member made a positive impact on their county 4-H program, and 85 percent believe that they were able to increase their capacity to serve the community. Supervisors report that they have been able to offer more club meetings, branch out to additional grades, add new curriculum, develop new specialty clubs and increase community service opportunities.”

Between 2010 and 2015, 54 year-long, full-time AmeriCorps service members served more than 70,000 hours, reached 33,575 students through in-school programming and 24,538 students through 4-H Project Achievement and recruited 436 volunteers.

This year 22 counties will gain new AmeriCorps service members, including Banks, Fannin, Gilmer, Lincoln, Putnam, Wilkes, Cobb, Chattooga, Douglas, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Spalding, Burke, Camden, Candler, Chatham, Crisp, Decatur, Houston, Peach, Sumter and Worth counties. Georgia 4-H is now accepting applications for these positions. More information can be found at georgia4h.org/americorps.

Members are required to log 1,700 hours over the 12-month term of service. Members receive a variety of benefits during their year of service including a modest monthly living allowance and health insurance. Other benefits such as loan forbearance and a childcare subsidy are available based upon eligibility. AmeriCorps members who successfully complete the service term and meet the hour requirement will also receive a Segal Education Award of $5,730 to pay for tuition at qualifying educational institutions or to pay back qualified student loans.

Georgia 4-H is now accepting applications for a September 1, 2015 start date. Interested applicants must apply for these AmeriCorps positions on the UGA iPAWS website at ugajobsearch.com.

For more information about the Georgia 4-H/AmeriCorps State program partnership, contact Cantwell at jecantw@uga.edu.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

AmeriCorps Volunteer
AmeriCorps Volunteer

Jonathan Page, an AmeriCorps service member working with Georgia 4-H, helps Barrow County 4-H'ers with a National Youth Science Day project.

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Jonathan Page, an AmeriCorps service member working with Georgia 4-H, helps Barrow County 4-H'ers with a National Youth Science Day project. Download Image
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