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Source: Department of Defense

Lt. Col. Stanley P. Fugate is the 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, deputy commander for Civil Capacity in Baghdad, Iraq. This is his first deployment to Iraq, but he has been deployed to Kuwait three other times. Fugate is the second in command of the brigade.

Today children in Iraq are striving towards a brighter future with the help from an old American organization and club called 4-H. The 4-H club is as American as "Apple Pie" and "Chevrolet" and in Iraq today this worldwide youth organization offers disadvantaged youth educational and practical hands on opportunities to gain valuable job skills in an informal setting. The youth are assisted by local volunteer leaders and parents that have knowledge in the project area that the children are interested in learning.

With its long history, 4-H is known for building future leaders who are committed to learning and public service, through the clubs' focus on agriculture. Even as a young sixth-grader in a Tennessee county school, I joined the 4-H club and participated in everything from presenting demonstrations, public speaking, record keeping, leadership, to animal husbandry. I would easily say today that by participating in my grade school 4-H club it has helped me be a better Army officer and has especially helped me in my duties as the 1-3 AAB deputy commander for Civil Capacity when it comes to working agriculture projects here in Iraq.

One of the main focal points for 4-H is educating young people in three areas: healthy living, community service and science, engineering and technology. By having a program similar to the 4-H clubs that we have in the United States means a lot to this developing country and to its' future.

Our brigade's agricultural adviser for the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT) here in Baghdad is Mary Kerstetter. Mary, like myself, was a member of a 4-H club in grade school and benefited from the education and hands-on training and uses it today in her role as an ePRT agriculture adviser. Kerstetter has spearheaded the creation of many Iraqi 4-H clubs in the Baghdad Province and now has created a Commander's Emergency Response Program project that will purchase 25 dairy heifers that will be given to 4-H members in the Latifiyah Qada area in southern Baghdad to raise and learn animal husbandry and dairy management.

The 4-H members will be required to complete the 4-H general record keeping and 4-H Cowabunga Dairy Activities book. The members are also required to donate the first female offspring back to the 4-H program to allow additional youth to join the 4-H club. Kerstetter said "by teaching the children to take care of their cows and to use laptops for record keeping, among other things, they will be a step ahead and will be better prepared to take care of their families in the future."

As our unit continues this important mission as an Advise and Assist Brigade here in the Baghdad Province of Iraq and we support the forming of a new government and promote the growth of civil capacity, it is programs like 4-H that will support that progress, and assist the development of the next generation of leaders for this country.

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