Solomon Garner, a second-year master’s student studying agricultural communication, education, and leadership, recently traveled to Puerto Rico with the 4-H Professionals’ Cultural Immersion Project.
During this project, which was located in the small mountain community of Castañer, Garner and other Ohio 4-H and Ohio State Extension professionals engaged in several cross-cultural and service-learning projects, participated in local community events, discussion groups, local agriculture and farm tours, and in cultural immersion challenge activities.
Participants in the program engaged with local community leaders in rural Puerto Rico to learn about their local youth development practices, which led to participants increasing their cultural understanding of the similarities and differences of youth development experiences in a culturally different environment.
"This 4-H Cultural Immersion Project is an enriching experience that words cannot describe. It brings the best out of you while challenging you to grow in character,” said Garner, “My leadership belief is that if anyone is to call themselves a leader, their skill set is to be applicable in daily life with diverse, multicultural engagement and environments. This trip grows your skill set for versatile application. It challenges you as a leader and puts your leadership skills to test."
Garner and his colleagues had four project goals and objectives for this project, including to expand their cultural competency skill set which will increase their effectiveness and expand their work with new audiences, expand their cultural competency skill set, develope connections with each other that will expand their professional network in Ohio and to plan and implement their own youth or adult immersion experiences within the next wo years.
Garner was selected from a group of applicants to participate in the immersion project. Selection criteria included demonstrated commitment to the field of youth development and leadership potential, professional and educational experience, potential for developing and/or expanding new audience in local 4-H programs and the willingness and capacity to work collaboratively with peers to foster a positive learning community.
Garner is a graduate research associate with the Ohio State Extension’s Urban Extension program. He is a 2021 graduate of Ohio State where he earned a bachelor of science in community leadership and a minor in youth development.
The agricultural communication, education, and leadership graduate program offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy degree prepares students for careers as administrators, specialists, university faculty and researchers.