Editor, I wish to thank everyone who proactively supported Extension and 4-H last week after hearing the devastating news of the University of Georgia President’s proposal to abolish 4-H in an effort to make needed budget cuts. Your emails, calls and letters to many elected officials overwhelmingly impacted our efforts to say alive.
To update you, these proposed cuts were initiated by Michael Adams, President and UGA. The University of Georgia had recently announced that tuition at the college could have to jump 77 percent to cover the $300 million in cuts requested by the Board of Regents. Rep, Ann Purcell, R-Rincon, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said the proposed cuts came from university officials, not the Legislature.
Purcell further said: “I am very supportive of our 4-H and Cooperative Extension programs and the research related to agriculture and agriculture education. The University of Georgia is a land-grant institution and thereby inherently agriculturally grounded.”
Rep. Jon Burns, R-Newington reiterated that cuts were going to need to be made. “These are tough times for everyone, not just our university system. Cuts are going to have to be made to our state budget, which includes all realms of state government. There’s no way around that.”
Fourth District Senator Jack Hill reports that the Legislature has a pretty clear picture of the deficit and the assumptions this deficit is based upon. “If understanding the problem is the beginning to solving it, then we are moving down that road. But there are difficult but necessary decisions left to be made in the weeks ahead.”
Extension and 4-H are at a local yearly peek. Project Achievement is underway, as well as summer camp sign-up. We are getting many calls regarding the continuation of our programs. We are still here working, will continue to be there until told not to be. We have been told that the camping season will continue as planned and that 4-H’ers and their families should remain excited about what 4-H has to offer. Even if cuts take place, I do not see any noticeable cuts in this camping season. I am encouraging any 4-H’er who had plans to go to 4-H camp to do everything you would have done to prepare before you heard of the proposed cuts. Parents are encouraged to still send in camp deposits as normal. Once camp quota is met, we rarely get additional slots.
I do not want your child upset because they can’t go to 4-H camp as a result of the hype regarding cuts that may or may not happen. IF, and I don’t see this happening, we don’t go to camp, money will be returned. It would be best to have them registered with a possibility of getting a refund rather than not registering and not being on the bus when we go to camp.
Many Bryan county residents have asked how they could help. My answer to you would be “Show Your Support!” Write, email or call senators, representative, and other elected officials. Spread the word at your local organizations: Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Encourage your social network to expand support of Extension and 4-H. I am including contact information for our representatives in in Atlanta. If you or anyone you know would like to share their “4-H Story” or how they have been impacted by 4-H/Extension, please share this with our office by emailing, calling or writing our office. All of this contact information is included. Someone may even consider a local organization, such as “FRIENDS of 4-H” that can be temporary sounding-board for our county during this dire time for Extension/4-H. State employees are not allowed to lobby or politic, so others that can will be the voice.
If you don’t know much about 4-H, I am asking that you look at our state website, www.georgia4H.org. If you think we are all about farming and agriculture, I challenge you to look at our project area list for Project Achievement. We have come a long way since we began in 1902. If you have an interest in anything, 4-H has something for you.
We really need your support in any way you may choose to give it.