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4-H National Headquarters and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Honor Washington State University 4-H Program

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

MILWAUKEE, March 24, 2010 – 4-H National Headquarters and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presented the 2010 Connecting Youth with Nature through Natural Resources Conservation Education Award to the Washington State University Extension’s 4-H Eco-Stewardship Program today at the 75th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference.

The 4-H Eco-Stewardship Program engages high-risk and low-income students in Chelan County, Wash., in “outdoor classrooms” through innovative school-based and summer programs.  Youth work directly with natural resource professionals, completing service-learning projects benefiting local watersheds and fish and wildlife habitats.  The program connects youth with nature while developing critical life skills and supporting academic and career choices in natural resources management. This nationally recognized program successfully provides young people the skills they need to become self-directing, positive, contributing members of society. 

 “The 4-H Eco-Stewardship Program is an excellent example of 4-H’s underlying philosophy – ‘learn by doing.’  Through the hands-on outdoor classrooms, students develop life skills, such as decision-making, communication, leadership and self-responsibility,” said Roger Beachy, Director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA is the parent organization to 4-H National Headquarters.  “Exposing young people to natural resource restoration, conservation and management also contributes to creating a 21st century workforce. It was a critical part of my own engagement with nature and led to my career in science.”

4-H National Headquarters recently recognized the 4-H Eco-Stewardship Program as a Program of Distinction, which is required for consideration for the annual interagency conservation award.  Programs of Distinction reflect the highest quality 4-H youth development programs found in communities across the United States.

The award program was initiated in 1980 to recognize 4-H volunteer leaders from across the country who assist youth in learning about wildlife and fisheries conservation and management. The Wildlife Management Institute, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Boone and Crockett Club also support the award program.

4-H National Headquarters seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage youth in the work of the land-grant universities and USDA to enhance their quality of life. Nearly 6 million youth, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H youth development experiences in all 50 states, territories and military installations worldwide.  More information is available at www.national4-hheadquarters.gov.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

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