4-H continues because of fundraising

Donations save 4-H program

Washington County 4-H Coordinator Ann Church said that years ago, the county had a much larger staff who could help with the 4-H program.  There was a home economist, a horticulturist, an animal person.

About ten years ago, she said, the county started reducing the staff.  Then, three years ago, the county board voted to cut funding altogether.  In the end, some funding was restored, but not enough to pay for 4-H.

“I’m one person, with a very small staff,” Church said.  “We depend a lot on our volunteers to help.”

Dan Dolan, president of the Washington County Agriculture Society, explained how the funding works.

The 4-H budget is $180,000 per year.  Only $50,000 comes from Washington County:  $30,000 pays almost half of the coordinator’s salary, and $20,000 goes toward Youth Teaching Youth.  In this program older kids talk to younger kids about alcohol decisions, character, cyber bullying, etc.

The other $130,000 comes from fund-raising.  “We get pretty good support,” Dolan said, “but it has to be done every year.”

This year, Dolan said, the non-profit 4-H Federation got $70,000 from foundations, $21,000 from the $45 membership fee, and $20,000 from the annual gala event held in February.

A total of $6,000 comes from Hooley Hall (the dining hall on fairgrounds, run by 4-H kids) and the 4-H auction (a percentage of each sale goes to the federation).

Individual donations to the 4-H Federation are 100 percent tax-deductible.

Dolan asked the cities in Washington County for donations, but did not get a big response, even after state law was changed to allow that.  The cities that did donate gave about $500 apiece, he said.  No money was given by Forest Lake, Hugo, or Scandia.