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4-H provides something for youths to do

Joyce Hollister

Young people in Douglas County can often be heard to say, “There isn’t anything to do here.”

There well may be activities for young people, but sometimes kids don’t have access to them. For teens who don’t yet drive, for example, lack of transportation is a big obstacle.

A grant to be used to develop solutions to the isolation of youths, called “Bridging the Gap of Isolation,” was given to the Douglas County 4-H and The Partnership last summer, and a team has been formed to search for answers.

The grant proposal was written by The Partnership Director Tonya Hill and Extension Educator Steve Lewis. Out of 44 applications nationwide, only 10 were chosen.

Hill, newly hired Extension Youth Coordinator Bob Koreski and two teens, Nikki Clark, president of the 4-H Sierra Riders Horse Club, and Jonathan Sherwood, who has volunteered with The Partnership’s Teens With a Future, are part of a team to develop a program for isolated youths in the county.

The four attended a training institute in Montana in October where they met with representatives of the nine other communities who were given grants.

“I thought it was very successful,” Hill said. “It was very interesting to meet people from all over the country and find out that we all deal with the same challenges.”

Douglas County is one of the largest communities of the 10 to be involved with “Bridging the Gap of Isolation,” but its problems are similar to those of smaller communities.

Koreski said, for instance, that one of the counties in the program is located in the middle of Nebraska, where there isn’t one incorporated town and there are only two paved roads.

“Douglas County, on the other hand,” Koreski said, “though being a larger community and being close to Carson and Reno, is isolated in that youths may be at the Lake or Topaz or the Ranchos. They don’t have the transportation to get to youth activities in Douglas County offered by parks and recreation or other organizations or get to Carson or Reno.”

Hill, Koreski, Clark and Sherwood are the members of the Youth Action Team that will put forth some initial planning. Next, they will form a Vision Team made up of community members who will develop ways to counteract isolation of youths.

An open house will be held in January, Koreski said, for people who may wish to volunteer to be part of the Vision Team.

“Anyone in the community who would be interested in a collaborative effort to provide opportunities for youths is welcome,” Koreski said.

The next step is asset-mapping – determining what activities are available for youths in the community. These could be offered by religious organizations, private youth and county programs or educational institutions.

“What we’re going to try to do is tie all of those associations, groups and entities together to better the opportunity for youth in Douglas County. We need to identify what opportunities we’re looking for and then decide how we want to go about making this happen,” Koreski said.

The grant doesn’t actually provide money other than funds for travel to institutes for training and having the opportunity to share successes and ideas with other people around the country, Hill said.

“It is helpful to network and ask questions and bounce ideas and learn from others’ successes,” she said. Anyone interested in getting involved with the Vision Team or other aspects of the “Bridging the Gap of Isolation” program may call Hill at 782-8611 or Koreski at 782-9960.