Many years from now, people will look back on the Spring of 2020 and remember time spent at home. It has been a struggle for everyone. However with online classes and graduation parades instead of parties, it’s been particularly tough for the youth of our community.
Rather than lament time lost, many young people across Wayne County have been lending a hand to help others.
Through the guidance of innovative classroom teachers and local organization coordinators, youth have been involved with a variety of volunteer activities. Whether making and donating masks or delivering groceries to the elderly, acts of kindness by teens can be found throughout our rural community.
Wayne High School student Blake Giles was recently named a 4-H Utah State Ambassador. He’s also actively involved with FFA. Blake is just one of 28 students from Wayne High School who has been involved with a variety of community projects over that past few months.
Innovative Wayne County teachers such as Jessica Grundy have been hard at working figuring out how to teach topics like welding at a distance. As FFA coordinator, Grundy worked with teens to create and share more than 25 virtual books for the community during the Covid-19 crisis. She also collaborated with USU Extension/4H to share online activities related to the agriculture-themed titles. To view the virtual book projects, go to https://www.waynesd.org/wha-activities-and-clubs/ffa/.
Future Farmers of America (FFA) officer Paxton Davis wrote the following introduction to the Wayne FFA Chapter’s Agriculture Literature Project. “We aren’t just cows and plows. We are leaders and achievers. Learners and servers. Teams with dreams. We are FFA. Covid-19 may have taken away our opportunity to promote Ag Literacy by participating in Ag in the Classroom in person. However, the Wayne FFA Chapter has never been stopped before, and we aren’t starting now. Virtually, we have carried on with Ag in the Classroom by asking each FFA member to read a children’s book in an agricultural environment. This activity serves and supports our community by providing kids with reading time and exposing them to the FFA. Plus, our chapter is able to stay involved, and not feel forgotten at such a difficult time. Even through Covid-19 we as Wayne FFA continue to engage in Ag in the Classroom because we are leader, achievers, learners, servers, and a team with a dream.”
Another example of community action during the crisis can be found in the teens working with Melanie Dabb along with Mary Sorenson, Jana Alexander, Maggie Ellett and numerous volunteers at USU Extension/4H.
4-H Teen Leaders have been working alongside staff and volunteers to create “At-Home” kits for youth and their families in conjunction with the NEH Sparking Humanities project sponsored by the Entrada Institute. Over 1000 free kits have been distributed in the community through Royal’s FoodTown and the schools. Each kit explores a different cultural heritage theme. Recent kits focus on our heritage of sidewalk games, knitting, rock art, thank you notes, and beekeeping. Each kit provides historical context, materials, and instructions for creating and sharing a project.
FFA, USU Extension/4H, and Wayne Schools along with the NEH Sparking Humanities project teamed for a county-wide At-Home Garden project.
As part of the project, 200 home garden kits were created by FFA teens partnering with USU Extension and the NEH SparkSquad project. The kits were distributed at school check-out across the county including Hanksville Elementary School. Participants were asked to share one of their six plants for the community garden.
While the Covid-19 crisis has impacted our communities in many negative ways, it’s also brought out the best in rural life and created a generation of young leaders ready to serve.
The NEH Sparking Humanities project is made possible through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Entrada Institute and Wayne County USU Extension. LIKE us at facebook.com/sparkinghumanities. – Annette Lamb
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