Eighteen 4-H youth leaders from Buffalo, Pepin and Pierce Counties participated in a weeklong service-learning educational travel experience in the state of California July 13-20, 2018. The purpose of the travel is to build teens’ youth leadership skills and appreciation for diversity, power and privilege while completing community service for those living in poverty and sharing new experiences in another state. In addition, as a result of this travel experience, teens develop lifelong friendships and grow more independent in preparation for life after graduation.
In California, teens completed four days of service for multiple non-profit and community organization in Indio, Anza, Riverside and Thousand Palms, California, all located near the city of Palm Desert. 4-H Youth leaders also worked one day at the Martha’s Kitchen homeless shelter and soup kitchen serving meals to over 250 locals living below the poverty line or on the streets. Youth also served others by coordinating the clothing distribution at the Martha’s Village Thrift Store nearby. Youth discussed poverty and the impacts for families and communities. Youth also visited a young adult transitional housing unit, brought residents all the materials for preparing a meal and cleaning their apartments as well as contributed a financial donation to ensure air conditioning in their apartment for one month – a necessity in the desert. Youth enjoyed learning from residents’ personal stories at the shelter. Finally, youth worked in partnership with Riverside 4-H members to clean-up a river and park on the De Anza River Trail. After park clean-up students visited a community garden developed by Latino 4-H youth near the University in Riverside, followed by a local Mexican grocery.
4-H teens also participated in local events near Palm Desert, California including going to the Oceanside beach with Riverside 4-H all-stars, rode the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world, hiked in the 118 degree sun at Joshua Tree National Park and enjoyed the amenities at the Palm Desert Villas.
The 4-H members who participated were: Naomi Fogel, Cassie Berg, Curtis Weltzien, Grace Pichler, Amy Losinski, Ben Pichler, Lindsey Berg, Morgan Guenther, Barbara Dittrich, Kevin Cataract, Austin George, Stephanie Brantner, Maya Jungwirth, Alex McMahon, Marsha Heck, Hannah Brubaker, Natalie Mark, and Kiley Smith. Trip adult advisors were Annie Lisowski, Buffalo County 4-H Youth Development Educator, Marie Ritscher, Pepin County 4-H Youth Development Agent and Donn Moe, President of the Mondovi Community Youth Center.
Each of these 4-H members were selected as representatives for the service-learning youth leadership trip after a rigorous application process including completing a resume and interviews. The youth are supported financially in part by the Buffalo County 4-H Leaders’ Association, the Pepin County 4-H Federation, and the Pierce County 4-H Adult Advisors.