PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program is among the handful of higher education institutions working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense to strengthen support for military families throughout the United States and abroad.
WSU has been awarded a one-year, $1.75 million grant to enhance the communications and information resources available to military families, specifically in three areas: building community capacity to support military families; workforce development; and strengthening family, child care and youth development programs. WSU Extension faculty and staff on the project will work with other universities, such as Purdue and the Ohio State University, who are developing programming in those three areas. Working with the project’s partner institutions, the WSU team will develop a comprehensive marketing and communications plan for the project, as well as produce a variety of communications products, such as fact sheets, curricula, reports, promotional flyers, training materials, news releases, conference exhibits, videos and comprehensive web resources targeted to reach military families.
Washington has one of the highest deployment rates in the country.
“Washington State University Extension has a history of more than three decades of work with the U.S. military, especially in serving families with children where there are high levels of stress, most recently through programs such as Operation: Military Kids,” said Linda Kirk Fox, associate dean and associate director of WSU Extension. “This project is a next logical step in our partnership with them. We have academic expertise in the three focus areas, and there are opportunities to connect other parts of the institution with the Department of Defense in the future.”
Pat BoyEs, director of WSU Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program, agreed.
“We often forget that it is mothers and fathers who serve in the military, and during their long deployments and frequent moves throughout their military careers, the impacts upon their children and family are significant and life changing,” she said. “4-H youth development has over a century of experience in helping young people make successful transitions to adulthood and our military family work is just one more way that 4-H is meeting community needs.”
Rajiv Shah, USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics, announced the project late last year; the grants will begin March 1.
“Military families face many challenges as a result of their commitment to our country, and USDA recognizes this significant sacrifice and believes very strongly that Cooperative Extension can play a critical role in supporting these families,” he said. “This new partnership will enhance our 20-year relationship with the Defense Department and extend the many resources of the Cooperative Extension Service to serve the entire military community.”