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San Bernardino 4-H club reaches out to military youth

The Issue

The Fort Irwin Army Base is located 37 miles northeast of Barstow, Calif., in San Bernardino County's Mojave Desert. Currently, the active population is about 5,000 and the K-12 school population is about 2,300. Over the past year, military volunteers have increased 4-H youth membership at the base three-fold. One of the 4-H projects leaders wished to offer is gardening, which instructs children how to plant and grow their own food plus teaches healthful eating habits. However, due to base regulations, the young people were unable to till land for an outdoor garden.

What Has ANR Done?

To help the Fort Irwin youth experience gardening first hand, San Bernardino 4-H Youth Development Advisor Cynthia Barnett and program representative Cheryl Eggleston asked another 4-H club, the Bloomington Boosters, to build a portable garden box for the military youth as a service project. The Bloomington Boosters have a well-established woodworking program and access to power tools. The group designed and built a 34- by 60-inch receptacle of water-resistant composition board. The 32-inch-deep container was mounted at an angle on heavy-duty wheels for portability and easy drainage.

The Bloomington Boosters also donated tools, seeds, pea gravel, compost and soil to the Fort Irwin 4-H members to get the garden started. The mobile garden was finished off with an engraved copper plaque.

The Payoff

Traditional 4-H club reaches out to military kids

The 250 military youth involved in the Fort Irwin 4-H program are now able to participate in a 4-H gardening project. Their portable garden permits them to grow their own vegetables and learn about healthful nutrition.

This project also gave the Bloomington Boosters 4-H woodworking members -- who live over 100 miles away from the base -- the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of military children. The project confirmed for both groups of 4-H youth that by thinking of others and working as a team, 4-H participation can make a difference in their communities.


Supporting Unit: 4-H Youth Development Program

Cynthia Barnett, (909) 387-2193, ccbarnett@ucdavis.edu
Cheryl Eggleston, (909) 387-2179, caeggleston@ucdavis.edu