Biological and Agricultural Engineering Extension Program Specialist, David Smith, specializes in water resources and conservation while leading programs involved with 4-H and youth water education. Though he is no stranger to the BAEN department, he was only recently appointed to his youth development and 4-H position in April. Currently, he is starting an annual Texas 4-H Youth Water Ambassadors Program as part of a new 4-H initiative. It strives to target students between the 9th and 11th grade to encourage their interest in the water industry. The program also seeks to bring students of varying backgrounds together “to gain advanced knowledge and practice leadership skills related to the science, technology, and management of water in Texas.”
For each of the 16 Regional Water Planning Areas in Texas, the program will select two youth to participate. The program is divided into two parts. The first portion of the program features a 10-day summer 4-H2O Youth Leadership Academy that exposes participants to diverse water-related experiences. Ambassadors will participate in scheduled tours where they will learn about water resources, its uses, quality concerns, impacted ecosystems, and conservation through the use of research and technology. Starting in Austin, ambassadors will meet with sponsors, state representatives, and industry association personnel to “gain insight into water law, policy, planning, and management”. They will also learn the importance of managing state water resources in the varying levels of government, as well as understanding the value and individual responsibility to protect it for future generations. Additional tours include visiting reservoirs, farms, research and extension centers, fisheries, and hatcheries throughout the state.
The second part of the program calls for a commitment of 40 hours of service following the leadership academy, to be completed within one year. This requires the ambassadors take their new skills and education, back to their communities. Service hours may include continuing education through the use of seminars and webinars, setting up or presenting at water day camps, setting up demonstration gardens, connecting with county extension agents, and interviewing water industry leaders. Additionally, optional assignments may be done to further expand the ambassador’s knowledge and educate the individuals in their communities.
The Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program seeks to leave a lasting impact on participants as well as the sponsors, representatives, and industry leaders met along the way. By forging lasting relationships, ambassadors will gain mentorship and connection while gaining a broad perspective of water in Texas. With the program’s success, it will develop the next generation of water industry leaders while creating a sustainable tomorrow.
To learn more about the program or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities contact David Smith at email@example.com or (979) 862-1989.
Article by Whitney Steinmann
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