November 28, 2007 | By: Katie Pratt
WINCHESTER, Ky.

Children in Clark County are learning the importance of being honest, responsible citizens with the help of a 4-H program assistant in the Cooperative Extension 4-H character education program. 

Many counties across the state have character education programs, but Clark County’s program is unique because it is led by an assistant whose sole responsibility is bringing character education to the classroom. 

The county’s program began about 17 years ago when then 4-H Agent Rose Swope and Aleene Eury, then 4-H program assistant, were awarded a $24,000 annual federal grant for four years to reach out to high risk youth in the community. Over the years, the program evolved into a school-based program. 

Current 4-H Program Assistant Lee-Ann Hampton-Robinson said she and Roy Turley and Heather Cassill, 4-H youth development agents, instruct 56 classes in the county’s public and private schools and reach about 1,500 children. Turley and Cassill assist with some class instruction because of scheduling overloads.

The program begins with basic character building exercises from the CHARACTER COUNTS! curriculum, but Hampton-Robinson and the county agents say they have expanded their programs to include interactive lessons on table manners, body manners, bullying, courtesies and telephone etiquette. 

“We try to do as much hands-on instruction as we can instead of just sitting there and lecturing to them for 30-45 minutes,” Hampton-Robinson said. 

Youth in the program watch videos, do worksheets and participate in teamwork activities.

Program participation is optional to teachers. Participating teachers select a topic to be taught in their classrooms and schedule the program at the beginning of each school year. Classes average once a week for six weeks but can last up to 10 weeks, depending on the topic the teacher selects.

Hampton-Robinson said she and Cassill developed a program evaluation form for teachers this year. Since the program is ongoing, results have yet to become available.

Turley said it’s hard to evaluate the program’s influence on youth while they are still young, but qualities learned in the program should stay with youth throughout their lives and make them better citizens. Evaluations on the program’s youth require several years before the effects can be measured and impact can be determined. 

“We’re going to affect some kids’ lives; it’s just hard to measure that right now,” Turley said.

Contact: 

Roy Turley, 859-744-4682, Heather Cassill, 859-744-4682