Iowa 4-H to experience changes

The dock overlooks the Iowa 4-H camp’s pond; the camp has many different aspects for the kids who come to enjoy nature.

Meghan Johnson

Summer of 2013 will bring changes to 4-H camps all across Iowa, but it will not end the entire program.

Luann Johansen, 4-H Youth Development of ISU extensions, described the changes in 4-H when she said, “We have these current financial realities of increasing costs and decreasing funds.

“Plus, we have had changes in our program staff. So that is what brought about the very difficult decision to not offer the traditional residential and day camp to the general public at the Iowa 4-H Center this summer.” 

Even though programs are being cut from 4-H, all the existing rental commitments at the Iowa 4-H Center are to be honored throughout the summer.

According to ISU Extension and Outreach, one in five school-aged youth participates in 4-H in Iowa. It is the largest youth development organization in the United States. 

Iowa State is home to the 4-H Youth Development headquarters and is available through ISU Extension and Outreach offices. 

The Iowa 4-H Center is owned by the Iowa 4-H Foundation, which is a charitable organization.

Johansen made it very clear that through the financial realities and changes happening in 4-H, the children and the children’s experiences through 4-H are priorities. 

“The center is not closing, but there will be camp offerings that will not be sponsored by the state program,” said John Roosa, a camp manager.

John Roosa was not allowed to say much according to policy at the ISU Extension and Outreach Program, but Julie Roosa, wife of John Roosa, expressed her concern as a parent of two children who participate in 4-H camps. 

The Roosas were planning on sending their two children to day-camp this summer through the 4-H program but now will not be able to have that opportunity.

“The information I’ve seen doesn’t make sense to me as a parent. It doesn’t make sense to me why they would cut camps. … That is their revenue stream. It doesn’t add up to me as a parent,” Julie said.

Iowa 4-H is a program that helps children develop in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills.

Julie also showed her concern with what 4-H programs offer when she said, “It’s unfortunate anytime that you eliminate programs for kids to be outside in a structured enviroment, like what the 4-H camp offers.”

The 4-H Club plans to add other camping experiences while also hiring program staff to facilitate camp programs, including archery, aquatics, a climbing wall, creek walks and science.

The hope of the changes in Iowa 4-H is to make a more effective and efficient program for youth.