The often-heard statement from kids and parents about there is nothing to do in Pahrump really doesn’t hold up when you look at what is available for kids here.
I spent some time the last few days looking into what our community has to offer, and it’s quite impressive just how much there is for kids to do.
We have 4-H clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, Little League, soccer, school athletics, and dozens of other school clubs and area programs that are available to our youth.
4-H has been a staple of rural communities for generations. It’s a resource that Pahrump almost lost. 4-H is managed through the University of Nevada’s Cooperative Extension Department. The Cooperative Extension offices can be found throughout Nevada, but there is one catch to having an office. There needs to be the support and partial funding provided by the counties that want a Cooperative Extension office.
In Pahrump, that local funding was pulled because of budget cuts mandated by reduced revenue from property tax collections when property values plummeted during the recession.
The university gave our community a reprieve and kept the 4-H coordinator position in place but eliminated all other positions. The popular “master gardener” position that was a vital resource used by many Pahrump adult gardeners was eliminated. Recently, a small amount of the county’s budget was allocated by the commissioners and county manager for the program.
The university pays most of the costs of operating the extension office and if the county can increase the budget in the future, perhaps we can get the master gardener position back and increase our 4-H youth programs. We traditionally think of 4-H as gardening and livestock, but it has evolved to include a diverse number of clubs that appeal to today’s youth.
One example is the Robotics Club that recently competed in a statewide competition. Currently, there are 19 4-H leaders serving almost 200 area youth, but further growth is difficult without additional staffing to assist the volunteer leaders.
Our schools have long been a major resource for area youth to engage in activities outside of normal school hours. Participation in sports in rural schools has been a tradition for generations. Sports have also been a source of area pride and spirit. Being rural also has its advantages in that you do not have to be an elite athlete to participate in sports. Sometimes just getting enough students for a team is a challenge.
In Pahrump, almost 25 percent of the high school students participate in sports.
For the remaining 75 percent who do not play sports, a wide range of clubs and activities are available for students. The list of clubs has more than 50 groups available to students. That list includes some of the more traditional activities like student government, chess club, drama club, and science club. But that list also includes new clubs that appeal to the current generation such as a gaming club and a multicultural club.
No matter what the organization and what they offer our youth there are some consistent similarities in their challenges to getting more youth involved.
First on the list is transportation. A considerable number of our youth have no transportation to their homes outside of school hours. They must take the school bus home, or they have no other way to get there.
Another area is lack of parent involvement. Several club leaders I spoke with said some parents view after-school activities as free babysitting and not as an opportunity for their children to learn and experience something new. Those parents don’t help and don’t show an interest in what their children are doing.
A third area is economic. We live in a low-income community with few jobs. Parents are often more concerned about keeping a roof over their children’s head and food on the table than coming up with funds for an after-school activity. Community business sponsorships are critical in helping those kids get into programs to keep them active and engaged and not into trouble.
Despite those challenges, there is a lot for kids to do here. As a community, we need to do everything we can to support those groups because that helps our children become better future citizens.
Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org