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Juntos Building Youth Confidence and Success

4-H leader Iveth Vasquez knows first-hand that launching a Latino 4-H club requires a different approach. “We are introducing the kids to something new that does not exist in our culture,” she explains.

So Vasquez, program coordinator of Juntos 4-H in Jackson County, tapped members of the first all- Latino club in Indiana — the Working for Our Dreams 4-H Club that Purdue Extension helped her co-found in Seymour in 2011 — to teach students at Seymour Middle School about 4-H.

Vasquez’s strategy attracted 25 members to a new after-school group, The Achievers 4-H Club, in spring 2021. “This year, they feel more confident to walk into the club alone with the leader without depending on the other Latino club to grow,” she says. “¡Ellos están listos para recibir al nuevo grupo de Juntos 4-H! They are ready to welcome the new group of Juntos 4-H!”

The purpose of Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish, is to raise Latino students’ graduation rates and college attendance. Vasquez is part of a Purdue Extension-supported team working to expand the program in Indiana.

Xiomara Diaz-Vargas, 4-H Youth Development Extension Specialist for new audiences, saw in Juntos an opportunity to bring programming to the state tailored for multicultural students and their families.

While the program was designed with Latino families in mind, it also serves students from other ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

With a USDA grant to start school programs in three Indiana counties, Diaz-Vargas partnered with Heather VonDielingen, Jackson County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Educator, to introduce Juntos 4-H at Seymour Middle School.

The program, which starts with a cohort of eighth grade youth, has three parts: workshops in which parents learn to navigate the educational system from middle school to college; the in-school club through which students develop academic and life skills; and individual academic coaching. Students can continue these relationships through high school.

Building on a foundation of new leadership skills and camaraderie, Vasquez says her 4-H members at Seymour Middle School will next set their sights on developing a sense of community service.

¡Ellos están listos para recibir al nuevo grupo de Juntos 4-H!”

Achievers 4-H Club, the first specialized club for academic success in Indiana. Youth participants pose in front of Purdue Extension Juntos 4-H banner. Achievers 4-H Club, the first specialized club for academic success in Indiana.

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