LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Hundreds of parents in Lee County are sending e-mails and making phone calls to commissioners, urging the continued funding of the 4-H program. Lee gives 4-H about 143-thousand dollars a year -- virtually the entire budget for the program for young people.
"It would be horrible to lose it," said 17-year old Heather Beigh of North Ft. Myers. "It teaches life skills, like leadership, time management, and responsibility."
Heather has won awards and first place ribbons at the Lee Co. Fair for raising dairy goats. 4-H has a goal of teaching youngsters to use and improve their heads, hearts, hands, and health. Some children work with farm animals; others learn sewing and cooking skills. More than 400 children in Lee are active in 4-H right now.
"4-H is a great program, and we want to fund it, but I don't believe we are going to fund any program at the same level as last year. That is the reality when you have a 70-million dollar budget shortfall," said Commissioner Frank Mann. "Nobody is singling 4-H out for a hit, and I believe it will survive. But every program probably is going to have to give up some money in the coming year."
Heather's mother hopes 4-H survives.
"There are a lot of kids staying out of trouble, because of 4-H," said Penny Beigh.
Commissioners begin tearing into the budget proposals on Tuesday afternoon.