Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

4-H in Iraq

We don't often read about the positive things that have happened because of our involvement in Iraq. Schools have been built, roads, other infrastructure. But some feel good actions do not make the top of the newspaper columns.

Mary Kerstetter is an employee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who spent two years in Iraq and started 42 4-H clubs with over 1,100 members. She was a typical district conservationist with the NRCS and she worked in New York State. She was one of those government employees who occasionally come under fire - because the government has too many of them. She volunteered to spend two years in Iraq and share her expertise.

When she got there, she found that help was needed in the area of sheep husbandry. Sheep are the most prevalent specie of livestock in Iraq. She found herself going back to many of the skills and training she had acquired while she was a 4-H club member. The thought occurred to her that she should try to start 4-H clubs in Iraq. She applied for a couple of grants and used the funds for translated versions of 4-H teaching materials, grain, shears, sheep and more. She got help from local people who wanted to see learning experiences for the Iraqi youth. In 2009 they started two sheep clubs with members being boys and girls ages 12 to 14. More than 60% of the children were orphans

She volunteered for one more year and saw the program expand so that by the time she returned to the United States, there were 1,100 4-H members, a national 4-H web site, trained local leaders, and a national 4-H organization.

It is obvious that this U.S. government employee has made a big difference to the young people of Iraq and they will benefit all of their lives from the 4-H teaching technique "learning by doing". end


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