Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Dr. Melinda Garcia, 210-954-3331, Melinda.email@example.com
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bexar County and Texas A&M University-San Antonio have announced a partnership to help inspire at-risk Latino youth remain in school and pursue higher education.
“The Texas 4-H program is overseen by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, part of the Texas A&M University System,” explained Dr. Melinda Garcia, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bexar County. “Now we’re joining with another part of the Texas A&M University System, TAMU-SA, to focus efforts on the Juntos 4-H program.”
Garcia said Juntos 4-H brings together students, teachers, school administrators, higher education institutions and the nation’s largest youth organization to help Latino youth stay in school and succeed in academics – and life.”
A 4-H Programming Partnership inaugural celebration was held at TAMU-SA and attended by university president Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, vice president of business affairs and chief financial officer Dr. Bill Spindle, special assistant to the vice president Dr. Arturo Alonso and others from the San Antonio campus. Dr. Courtney Dodd, state leader for Texas 4-H, and Dr. Manuel Pina, associate professor in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, both from College Station, were also in attendance.
The celebration included 4-H members, their parents and other program supporters. Entertainment was provided by the Harlandale ISD Mariachis.
In Bexar County, Juntos 4-H has 35 participants from Harlandale High School who began participating in the program three years ago. As part of the new partnership, Harlandale ISD will provide Juntos 4-H participants with transportation to the TAMU-SA campus, where they will receive two hours of 4-H programming on Saturdays.
“The Juntos 4-H program helps Latino youth and their families gain the knowledge and skills needed to remain in school and seek higher education,” Garcia explained. “It emphasizes family engagement and gives participants an opportunity to engage in real college experiences and develop leadership abilities.”
She said the program provides Latino youth the opportunity to visit some of the top Texas colleges, engage in STEM and other college preparatory academics, learn leadership skills, meet successful adult Latinos and get a firsthand look at college life.
Teniente-Matson said the partnership was a “family affair” between Texas A&M entities and opens the door to other possible collaborations.
“We have the same goal of inspiring youth to stay in school and go to college,” she said. “And whether it’s Texas A&M or another college, that doesn’t matter. The important thing is they pursue higher education as a means to succeed.”
Pina, a longtime supporter of the Juntos 4-H program said the is in keeping with the original mission of land-grant universities such as Texas A&M.
“When the land-grant system was developed in 1862, the idea was to provide educational opportunities for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or background,” he said. “Through the Juntos 4-H program we are bringing education to young Latinos and showing them they can be whatever they want to be through education and hard work.”
Alonso noted the Juntos 4-H program is compatible with the university’s desire to help students from underserved and/or low-income areas in and around San Antonio and other parts of the state attend college.
Dodd said the partnership with Texas A&M-San Antonio helps solidify the Juntos 4-H program.
“This partnership will provide additional resources and opportunities for those participating in the program,” she said. “We also hope it opens the door to other partnership opportunities for youth development.”