AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Alabama 4-H programs are providing life-changing opportunities for Alabama youth. In addition to local in-school and after-school programs, 4-H members have the opportunity to attend overnight events at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana, Alabama. Summer camp and the midwinter retreat are often opportunities that 4-H members dream about. However, sometimes the financial commitment can be a barrier.
The Alabama 4-H Ambassadors are hoping to ease the financial difficulty of camp attendance for families through an endowment campaign, in honor and memory of the late Doug Summerford, an Alabama 4-H agent who made an impact on the lives of countless 4-H members. The endowment will be used to fund scholarships for camp attendance.
Endowment seeks to remove financial barriers
Gavin Yocum, 4-H ambassador vice president, said the endowment campaign is important to him because he wants every child — regardless of their family’s financial circumstance — to have an opportunity to attend overnight 4-H camps.
Yocum, a Shelby County native, said the state ambassadors on the endowment committee will oversee the money and its uses.
“Currently, we plan on giving two scholarships for each of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s SETs (regional divisions): one for the 4-H midwinter teen retreat and one for 4-H summer camp,” Yocum said. “These are both amazing opportunities for kids that I believe all 4-H’ers should have the opportunity to participate in.”
4-H Ambassador President Luke Stephens said the money they raise for the endowment will be used to further the 4-H experience for youth across the state.
“While we hope to have 14 total scholarships, this is not the limit,” Stephens said. “Future ambassadors will be able to delegate the money to any 4-H causes within the state. The impact of the endowment will be large and will continue for years to come.”
Seth Tuttle, a development officer with the Alabama 4-H Foundation, said this is the first time in Alabama 4-H history that ambassadors are working on the importance of philanthropy and what it can do for communities.
“4-H State Ambassadors are gaining hands on involvement in understanding the programmatic needs around 4-H and how they can make a difference in the lives of other 4-H’ers at an early age,” Tuttle said. “The state ambassadors are being introduced to non-profit and fundraising principles, career exploration and are participating in fundraising activities.”
Stephens, a Clarke County native, said social media has been an important part of the campaign thus far. However, the ambassadors are also making individual inquiries and asking for donations.
“Word of mouth is crucial as well, and I have been talking about the endowment at school, church and within county club meetings,” Stephens said. “We felt that this endowment was the way to go so that his (Summerford’s) legacy could be honored for years to come.”
Yocum said his when asking for donations to the endowment, his approach has been to tell friends, family and others about the future uses of the donations made to the Doug Summerford endowment.
Those wishing to donate to the Alabama 4-H State Ambassador Endowment can donate online at https://tinyurl.com/AL4HFundraiser. More information is also available by contacting a local 4-H agent or the Alabama 4-H Foundation.
Yocum said he is excited about the endowment and his work on it thus far.
“I am excited because I get to help others even long after I have aged out of 4-H,” Yocum said.
Stephens said the most special aspect of the endowment for him is its ability to evolve over the years.
“I’m thrilled that future 4-H ambassadors will be able to use the money as they see fit within the state, and I know that they will utilize it positively in an effort to make the best better,” Stephens said.
To learn more about the different opportunities within Alabama 4-H, visit www.Alabama4H.com.