Fort Valley State University 4-H program receives grant to help underserved youth

Published By: Russell Boone April 15, 2019

Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension 4-H program is using a grant to help high school students prepare for college and avoid juvenile incarceration.

The 4-H Youth Futures College Within Reach Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) National Mentoring Project, (NMP) awarded FVSU’s 4-H program a competitive grant of $55,000. The OJJDP NMP project begins May 1, and will end on May 31, 2020.

Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU’s assistant Extension administrator and state 4-H program leader, said the funds will be used to cover expenses related to hiring a professional consultant, travel to several college and career events and purchasing supplies for the program.

In addition, Hughes said the grant funds a collaboration between FVSU’s 4-H program and Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (SEM Link). SEM Link is a nonprofit organization focused on exposing students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to enhance opportunities to enroll in college. The program also looks to encourage students to pursue a profession in medicine or science with hands-on STEM activities.

According to Hughes, the project will involve physicians and medical professionals who will mentor 60 at-risk or underserved minority youths in select Atlanta metropolitan high schools for 12 months. He also said the FVSU-SEM Link joint effort helps establish FVSU’s 4-H program as a leader in educating youth and helping them avoid juvenile incarceration through educational opportunities.

“Working with youth through positive 4-H youth development experiences may save lives and lead to growing the next generation of 21st century innovators,” Hughes said. “These young people will help solve global issues relating to food safety, agriculture and water conservation,” the state 4-H program leader said.

Hughes said that by exposing students to the benefits of completing a degree in higher education, it may also lead to increased enrollment at FVSU. “The project will introduce all youth participants to post-secondary education opportunities at Fort Valley State University thanks to our partnership with SEM Link Inc.,” Hughes said.

Furthermore, Hughes said the project will use 4-H parent education and legal guardian meetings, workforce entry training and group mentoring sessions, to enhance life skills that prepare youths for the future. Family Engagement Days, another facet of the project, will emphasize the importance of parents and legal guardian’s involvement in youth development.

For more information about FVSU’s Cooperative Extension 4-H program, contact Woodie Hughes Jr. at (478) 825-6219 or