CORVALLIS, Ore. – A pilot youth leadership program begun during Oregon’s sesquicentennial celebration will continue under the direction of the 4-H Youth Development program at Oregon State University.
Called “Project 2059: Activate Oregon,” the community action program was initiated by teens under Oregon 150, which was created to celebrate Oregon's sesquicentennial and disbanded in September.
"With its existing youth programs and statewide community network, OSU 4-H is a wonderful platform to launch the next phase of this project to engage Oregon's youth," said Melisa McDonald, executive director of Oregon 150. By assuming responsibility to nurture Project 2059, McDonald noted that Oregon 4-H is "the perfect partner to help support the next generation of Oregon leaders."
Project 2059: Activate Oregon is a signature project of Oregon 150 that gives Oregon youth opportunities to envision changes in Oregon by 2059. During Phase I of the project, Oregon 150 took a road trip to 43 high schools across the state, issued an online survey and developed a social networking website, www.project2059.com.
Feedback from that first phase led to "Activate Oregon," a two-and-a-half day leadership summit at Willamette University in August. Oregon high school students submitted vision statements for Oregon's future and 65 students from across the state produced individual and group action plans to change Oregon's educational, economic and environmental future.
In upcoming weeks, Oregon 4-H will assemble a leadership team and plan for a second "Activate Oregon" leadership summit in 2010. 4-H personnel across the state will engage with youth leadership groups and 4-H clubs to spur local action focused on education, the economy and the environment.
"4-H operates from the assumption that young people are important assets to their communities and that their voices and action are catalysts for meaningful community change," said Roger Rennekamp, head of the Department of Youth Development Education at Oregon State University. "Their engagement in their communities and broader society are essential to ensure a positive future for our state."
Marilyn Lesmeister, civic engagement specialist for Oregon 4-H, sees Project 2059 as a way to build leadership skills through real-world experience.
"Communities are living laboratories where young people can use their energy and talents in positive ways,” Lesmeister said. “When they see that their actions matter, they are more likely to remain civically engaged over their lifetime."
4-H is Oregon State University's largest youth development program, reaching more than 150,000 young people through county Extension offices across Oregon. 4-H helps young people learn and grow through a process that builds competence, confidence, connection, compassion and character. Young people prepare for economic and social success as adults while making positive contributions to their communities.
To find out more about plans for Project 2059 visit http://www.project2059.com/ or contact Oregon 4-H at 541-737-2421.