Washington County 4-H Program Won’t See Budget Increase

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Washington County 4-H Program has gone the past two years without an agent and it looks like it is likely to stay that way after the Washington County Quorum Court voted down increasing the program's budget.

In the two years the Washington County 4-H Program has been without an agent, participation has dropped by nearly half from a year ago, according to County Extension Office Staff Chair Berni Kurz.

The Quorum Court decision has also baffled and frustrated parents like Kristi Weaver and her son Levi.

"I love showing [animals]. It's a big part of my life," Levi said.

"Originally, back when it was first created, the county funded 90 to 100 percent of the 4-H Program," Kristi said. "So they're actually funding, at the county level, less than it was originally back when it first started. I'm not understanding why they're refusing to pay the smaller amount that they're having to pay now."

Kurz said the group has gotten some help to keep things going.

"One good thing is that participation in the 4-H club enrollment has stayed level," he said. "That's because other agents within the staff have picked up and are helping the club programs to continue."

And although extension agents like Katie Teague are more than happy to help, she said it is taxing on her family to be working so many extra hours.

"I struggle a little bit, it's not sustainable right now," she said.

Justice of the Peace Eva Madison said the Washington County Extension Office had asked for an increase in funding, but the Quorum Court voted to keep their funding the same as the year before, which still does not allow for hiring an agent to run the 4-H program.

"I think what a lot of people don't know is the extension office is actually not a county function," Madison said. "It's part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the state hasn't seen fit to increase funding for the program for quite a number of years."

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