Thanks to the help of many generous donors, longtime West Virginia University Extension 4-H club leader Stacy Fint’s legacy will live on through new cultural heritage experiences for young West Virginians attending state 4-H camps.
While spending most of her life in the small West Virginia towns of Bayard and Aurora, Fint developed an appreciation for the Mountain State’s rich history and culture and shared that passion with her own children, as well as her local 4-H club members over the years. It was her dream to provide future generations of 4-H’ers from across the state with similar experiences.
To honor that dream, Fint’s family established the Stacy S. Fint 4-H Cultural Heritage Fund in 2018. The endowment was designed to provide funds to support and advance the study of West Virginia art, history and culture at state camps hosted by the West Virginia 4-H program. And, because of the family's philanthropic leadership through crowdfunding efforts and the WVU Day of Giving, the fund has now become fully endowed and will see its inaugural use this summer.
“My mom instilled in us as kids a deep love and appreciation for the state, and because of her, being a West Virginian is how I identify most,” Becca Fint-Clark, WVU Extension agent in Monongalia County and Fint’s youngest daughter, said. “Our family honored her wishes to create this endowment. We’re excited that the funds will continue to honor her year after year and allow new generations of West Virginians to learn more about our history and culture.”
At this summer’s weeklong state 4-H camps, funds from the endowment are being used for the first time to provide campers with a unique Appalachian arts experience featuring 4-H alumnus and singer-songwriter, Ryan Brandenburg, who specializes in American folk music. With the help of his acoustic guitar and clawhammer banjo, Brandenburg plays a mix of traditional Appalachian tunes and original music.
As a former 4-H’er, Extension camping instructor and current 4-H volunteer, Brandenburg’s connections to 4-H combined with his unique musical talents made him a natural choice to provide the arts and culture programming for this year.
“Because of this endowment, we have the opportunity to introduce something different to our state camps, and when we were trying to determine how we wanted to use the funds, Ryan jumped off the page,” Jason Burnside, WVU Extension camping specialist, said. “This is a chance to not only honor the Fint family and expose our campers to West Virginia history and culture, but also showcase a great example of what our 4-H’ers are capable of accomplishing.”
Each of the weeklong state 4-H camps – Older Members Conference, Alpha I and Alpha II – include unique opportunities for participants, which means that the camps’ program directors were challenged with finding creative ways to seamlessly incorporate this cultural experience into the camp schedule.
At OMC last week, Brandenburg and an accompanying string band performed an outdoor concert ahead of the camp’s banquet. In July, he will return for Alpha I and Alpha II, where he will be providing mentorship to campers with musical interests. Campers also will have the chance to “pick” with him during informal afternoon activity sessions of their choosing. Each of these opportunities will allow campers to take in authentic Appalachian music and learn more about how our state’s heritage is represented in song.
While this year’s camps feature a musician, future camps can use the funds from the endowment in a variety of other ways to introduce campers to West Virginia art, culture and history, such as welcoming artisans and guest speakers to camp or offering fun, hands-on activities related to our state’s heritage.
“Reaching our goals for this fund would not have been possible without the support of dear friends and loved ones who cared about our mom, but we have been especially moved by those who gave and didn’t even know her. The purpose of this endowment really resonated with people, and our family feels so fortunate to see our mom’s legacy carry on in this way,” Fint-Clark added.
All contributions to the Stacy S. Fint 4-H Cultural Heritage were made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
West Virginia 4-H youth development programs are the cornerstones of our communities. If you would like to invest in the future of 4-H’ers or other important WVU Extension programs, contact Lauren Seiler, director for development, WVU Extension at 304-293-5692 or email Lauren.Seiler@mail.wvu.edu.