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Changes for Franklin County Extension services in 2015

County Extension Coordinator Katernia Cole said some ways of doing things are going to have to change in 2015. And for students in the county that could be good news.

“We are going to have to do things differently this year,” Cole said. “We want to change the way we have presented our programs to the kids so that they get more out of it.”

Cole said in the past the 4-H programs have been set up so that all of the programs were mostly set up in the same way for students from fourth grade up through the high school.

“Obviously you cannot approach a program on woodworking or gardening the same way with a fourth grader as you would an eighth or ninth grader,” Cole said. “The students won’t get out of the program what they could or should be getting.”

Cole said the focus of the 4-H programs and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System as a whole is on students and their futures.

“We need to give the kids something they can carry with them in the future,” Cole said. “No one is going to ask someone how their woodworking project turned out back in fifth grade when they are interviewing for a job, but if they can learn a skill or learn something from that program going forward then we have achieved our goal.”

The focus now, according to Cole, is to offer the same events and programs through 4-H at the 7-12 grade level, but through individual 4-H sponsors at each school. This will allow the County Extension program to visit the schools in the 4-6 grade range.

The Franklin County Extension services visit fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes at Vina, Tharptown, East Franklin, Red Bay, Belgreen and Russellville Middle School.

The 7-12 grade programs from the County Extension services are at Tharptown, Belgreen and Red Bay schools. The programs at this level will still be available, according to Cole, but students will need to show interest and sign up for the events and programs through their respective 4-H sponsor at their school.

“Doing things this way will make sure that everyone involved is getting something out of the services that we provide,” Cole said. “The shooting events, and the Beef Club and the cooking and nutrition programs like that will still be available at the 7-12 grade range, but they will have to sign up for them and show that they are interested in the events.”

Cole said the 4-H program just started a great project.

The Franklin County Extension along with Colbert County’s Extension program began the Northwest Alabama 4-H Pig Squeal Project last week.

The Franklin County 4-H just received two feeder pigs that are approximately 60 days old and way around 50 pounds. The pigs are barrows which are castrated male pigs. The pigs are properly vaccinated and the kids involved with the project will care for and raise the pigs for 120 days. At the end of that period one of the hogs will be brought to the Northwest Alabama 4-H Pig Squeal Show and Sale. The hog will be shown and auctioned off and participants in the program will receive a portion of the auction proceeds.

Any Franklin County student between ages 9 and 19 were able to sign up for the program at the end of Nov. 2014.

Cole said that programs like the Pig Squeal are important in the community and she hopes to see more interest in programs like it in the future.

“I want people to see the 4-H logo and recognize it and I want people to see the Alabama Cooperative Extension System logo and recognize it,” Cole said. “The motto of 4-H is ‘To make the best better’ and that’s what we strive to do.”

The 4-H program is a learning by doing education program for boys and girls in kindergarten through 12th grade that can “involve any kid, anytime, anywhere,” according to the 4-H website. 4-H is the youth development and education program of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System or ACES. The Alabama 4-H program has been going for more than 100 years.

According to the 4-H website, individuality is valued and each person is encouraged to discover his or her own skills, talents, and interests while developing personal and professional skills to help individuals become productive members of society.

Cole said volunteers are always welcome to help out and get involved with the various events and programs that ACES has upcoming for the year.