Home Hudson County These Local Kids + Teens are Improving Hudson County’s Environment

These Local Kids + Teens are Improving Hudson County’s Environment

by Sarah Griesbach
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We are so lucky to live where we do — in a bustling community with so many shops, restaurants, and public transportation options that take you right into New York City. We also have our own spots of nature + greenery, and our local environment — much like any other — needs upkeep and care. Opportunities for Hudson County children and teens to explore the wild world of nature in our urban environment are increasing tremendously due to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development program, which is now in its second year and going strong. Not only are these local kids + teens getting to explore and learn about our county, but they’re also taking tremendous strides to help improve and care for our ecosystem. Read on to learn all about Local 4-H Youth. 

junior master composters 4 h hudson county

(Photo credits: Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4H Youth Development Program)

4-H, A Basic Primer

President Jimmy Carter + First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Vice Presidents Al Gore + Walter Mondale; actress Julia Roberts; television host David Letterman; and musical stars Johnny Cash, John Denver, and Dolly Parton all have something in common: they were 4-H members. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis even famously raised a calf while a member. 

Like those big name alumni, each Hudson County 4-H member is meant to give the pledge that was adopted by the organization in 1927:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,

my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,

and my health to better living,

for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The pledge’s head, heart, hands, and health are the Hs represented within the program name. 

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4-H began in the US, but it has long been a global organization. Many aspects have changed over time with shifting awareness and circumstances. Environmental consciousness and what is meant by healthy living are conceptual themes that look very little today like they would have in Jackie O’s day. Intentional inclusivity is fundamental to the programs in Hudson County. Youth leadership — as demonstrated by the Hudson Co. 4-H Teen Council — provides agency that is now understood to be a basic component of any organization that follows the tenet, Nothing about us without us.

hudson county 4 h program

(Photo credits: Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4H Youth Development Program)

Taking Root and Growing Strong

Tired of being home after so much Covid sequestering, eager to make new friends, and quite genuinely motivated by a desire to improve their world, Hudson Co. kids have clambered to the 4-H program sponsored by Rutgers. Senior program organizer Claudia Urdanivia is proud of and pleased for the more than 70 young people who have gathered at eight local sites for the urban agriculture projects that the Youth Urban Farm Club recently undertook. 

These children and teens concocted their own simple, all-natural solution to spray on the loathed spotted lantern flies. Working with master gardeners, they’ve brought pollinator-friendly native plants to parks and public green spaces. There is a thriving 4-H garden on the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery grounds. The cemetery bee hives are the project of a youth farm club leader. Chances are, any park in which you’ve enjoyed the results of environmentally supportive volunteer work was touched by the efforts of these young green thumbs.

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Claudia has connected her participants in the 4-H programs Rutgers supports to great mentors who live what they teach. These strong proponents of finding and supporting nature in cities are likely to expand the horizons of anyone they meet. They walk our concrete jungle and see possibility for ecological enhancement. For them, every place is a potential Eden. Farmer Shirley Parcon has taught them some basics of animal husbandry among other things at her Urban Quack Farm on Ogden Avenue in the Heights. Jersey City’s Feminist Bird Club leads youth birding activities. Where the experts lead, these kids will follow.

bird watchers hudson county 4 h

(Photo credits: Feminist Bird Club, Jersey City)

The Kids Are Alright

The leadership skills of these young students of nature are on display in every way as they document and teach one another about their wide-ranging environmental education. Growing plants as medicine, fungi for the fun of it, composting food scraps, and caring for animals — these kids are a lot of what’s right in the world. 

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