Through University of Georgia Extension, 4-H youth development agent Pamela Bloch is leaving her mark on Gwinnett County.
Whether it's through the annual Farm Friends Educational Exhibit, or a technology grant that allows her 4-H'ers to assist senior citizens, Bloch has a far-reaching impact. Bloch's most gratifying experience in 4-H, though, is interacting with her students on a daily basis.
"I love the fact that I get to spend my time going to conferences with these kids and working with them on their portfolios and presentations throughout the year," Bloch said. "Also, when they reach that 'Ah ha' moment, or 'Oh, I get it now,' that just makes everything perfect. I can honestly say I have the job I've always wanted."
The joy Bloch finds working with her 4-H'ers has confirmed that her decision to move to Georgia five years ago was the right one. She was born and raised in Illinois. Her father, Tom Schingoethe, was a 4-H Extension agent in Illinois and was instrumental in Bloch's decision to pursue a career working with young people.
"I truly was adopted into the 4-H program at a very early age," said Bloch, who attended her first 4-H event — a county fair — when she was one month old. After participating in 4-H activities in school, Bloch pursued a career as a 4-H agent in Illinois. She served for five and a half years as a 4-H agent. It was then she made a life-changing decision.
"I was looking for a change. I decided I wanted to move out of the University of Illinois and just started looking south," Bloch said. "I found some really amazing job opportunities in Georgia. I applied for Gwinnett County and was offered the job right away. It was a very big change for me, but it's been amazing. I'm so glad I took that opportunity."
During Bloch's short time in Gwinnett, she has had a substantial impact on both the children and local community. The program Bloch is most proud of is teaching senior citizens today's technology. Through a grant funded by the National 4-H Council, the Gwinnett 4-H program has acquired tablets and computers, which the students use to teach senior citizens about technology.
"That's been a really cool thing for the kids because it's almost a reverse teaching process. They're teaching someone older than them how to do something that they use every day," Bloch said. "We have tablet computers and are teaching classes throughout the county on how to use them, how to turn them on and how to charge them. We're connecting (the senior citizens) with family members through Facetime and Skype."
This unique program has not only educated senior citizens, but it has taught Bloch's students about respect and how to treat their elders.
"The parents of these kids have even noticed changes in how they react when they're out and about with senior citizens. Not that they weren't respectful before, but they're quicker to be. If they see someone needs help with their groceries or something, they quickly hurry over to help them," Bloch said. "It's continuing on outside with their everyday lives."
Another meaningful program has been the Farm Friends Educational Exhibit. This annual event allows 4-H'ers the chance to work with and learn about young animals in a setting they don't experience every day.
"We have sign-ups for them to work in the barns, and we fill the slots every time with the kids, and even the parents. Not only do (the parents) recognize that it is our one fundraiser of the year, but two, they are so excited because they get to hold the baby chicks and ducklings, and they get to interact with kids as they get to experience the farm friends for the first time," Bloch said. "It's a really cool experience, and the kids love to do it."
Visit the UGA Extension Gwinnett County 4-H website for more information about the local 4-H program.
Published May 11, 2014
"I love the fact that I get to spend my time going to conferences with these kids and working with them on their portfolios and presentations throughout the year. Also, when they reach that 'Ah ha' moment, or 'Oh, I get it now,' that just makes everything perfect. I can honestly say I have the job I've always wanted."
- Pamela Bloch, Gwinnett County 4-H Agent