Jones County 4-H prepares students for success

Jones County 4-H’ers are focused on the future. They’re finding their passions and exploring potential careers, and for many, 4-H projects are preparing them for similar studies in college. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach supports participants with an endowment fund for college scholarships through the Jones County Community Foundation

There are nearly 400 youth involved in the Jones County 4-H (grades four through 12) and Jones County 4-H Clover Kids (kindergarten through third grade) programs. “4-H touches a lot of different types of families, upbringings and financial situations. Our goal is to be a consistent and welcoming outlet for our 4-H members and other community youth throughout all their years,” said Molly Schmitt, Jones County Youth Program Coordinator. Students who’ve invested time and energy into 4-H have the opportunity to apply for scholarships. 

ISU Extension and Outreach for Jones County also supports youth through trips, day camps, overnight camps and workshops, and offers financial aid to those who need it. The Community Foundation gave a grant to the organization that helped with the purchase of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) materials like laptops, a virtual reality kit and coding tools used to teach campers. This technology will also be used for the Teens Teaching Tech program where teen leaders teach community members about basic computer skills.  

Other programming includes new after-school clubs and in-school programming, such as middle school leadership training, financial readiness for high school seniors, and a 12-week wellness program. A weekly series titled Strengthening Families (Ages 10-14) Program will start in February. 

The vision of the 4-H program is to prepare Iowa’s youth to be successful, contributing members of society. Schmitt has seen the program meet that vision when it comes full circle, with members returning as adults to volunteer as camp and club leaders. “It makes a big impact when graduating 4-H members see that we support them, and now they can support us through volunteering and giving back,” said Schmitt, who estimates there are 60-70 4-H volunteers in Jones County acting as club leaders, chaperones, workshop instructors and helping with the county fair. 

The Jones County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, hosts the Jones County 4-H Endowment Fund. Like the 4-H’ers, endowments are future-oriented. “Dollars placed in an endowment fund today are invested and held in perpetuity, providing regular annual payouts forever,” said Sherri Hunt, Jones County Community Foundation coordinator.