UACES Facebook Van Buren County, Arkansas Ag, Strong Women and Men, 4-H, Community Development
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Extension Educational Programs & Services
Van Buren County, Arkansas

Group photo of Van Buren County 4-H members at County Fair

Van Buren County 4-H

Opportunities for Youth & Adults

The mission of 4-H is to provide opportunities for youth to acquire knowledge, developing life skills, form attitudes, and practice behavior that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of society. In Van Buren County there are nearly 150 youth enrolled across 12 community, project, and social clubs. Hundreds of youth have the opportunity to participate and experience 4-H through the many 4-H Youth Enrichment programs during the year. 4-H membership is free and provides many educational and fun experiences for all youth ages 5-19.

Join a 4-H Club today and get involved!! Search and Like the Van Buren County 4-H page on Facebook.

For additional information on 4-H in Van Buren County contact:

  • Razorback Rascals - Clinton
  • Southern Four- Shirley
  • South Side 4-H - Bee Branch 
  • Middle Fork 4-H Club- Shirley 
  • Great Scott's - Scotland 
  • VBC 4-H Equine Club (Project Group -County wide)  

Register for 4-H today!

Contact the Van Buren County Extension Office for location and time of meetings.

At the county and state level, 4-H'ers and Adult Volunteers participate in environmental activities, or camps, many of which are held in Van Buren County or at the C.A. Vines 4-H Center in Ferndale, Arkansas.

Competitive events contribute to the goal of developing life skills so 4-H'ers can become self-directing, productive and contributing citizens. 4-H competitions may be against one's personal best achievement, against a previously determined standard of excellence or against one's peers.

The 4-H Events Packet, revised annually, contains basic applications and information on many 4-H Activities at the state level.

Also, check with your Van Buren County Extension Agent for ways to get involved in 4-H in your area.

At the county level, youth develop leadership skills by serving as officers to their club, organizing community projects, and sharing what they have learned in their project area with other 4-H members and community members. 4-H youth are involved in community projects that better their community and their world.

There are a variety of state programs Arkansas 4-H'ers can apply for that recognize and develop youth leadership skills, such as State 4-H Officers or the Ambassador Program.

4-H strongly pursues opportunities to recognize excellence for our volunteers, activity winners, scholarship winners, clubs, community service participants and donors to the Arkansas State 4-H Foundation.

The Van Buren County 4-H Foundation sponsors an Annual 4-H Achievement Banquet. During the Banquet we are able to recognize participation, achievements, and to present awards. 

Volunteers are the backbone of the Arkansas 4-H Program. Adult Volunteer Leaders can lead clubs or assist with particular activities. Our Adult Volunteer Leaders also encourage a spirit of volunteerism among Arkansas youth.

Why be a 4-H Youth or Adult Volunteer Leader?

You are wanted and needed as a 4-H volunteer. As a volunteer leader, you will experience your own personal growth as you help others attain theirs, and you will be rewarded in many ways.

Develop knowledge and skills in the areas of child and youth development, organizational planning, and personal and group management. Watch the development of 4-H members. Provide help to others and to their own families. Meet new people and work with outstanding 4-H members and adults. Gain personal satisfaction and meet some of their own needs through helping others. Learn new skills from other leaders and from 4-H members. Know that they are contributing to the improvement of their communities.

4-H Volunteer Leaders are entitled to certain tax deductions. Generally, out-of-pocket expenses, such as amounts spent for fees, materials, travel, lodging, awards, etc., and mileage for use of privately owned vehicles are deductible as contributions. The same type of expenses incurred when attending 4-H leadership training is also deductible. Keep an accurate record of your out-of-pocket expenses and consult with a qualified tax person.

Contact the Van Buren County Extension Office if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. 



Kids enjoying a healthy snack

Van Buren County

Family & Consumer Science

What is Family and Consumer Sciences? Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), originally named Home Economics, focuses on educational programming promoting: improved health and well-being, stronger families, financial stability and leadership growth. Programs currently available in Van Buren County are Strong Women and Men, Walk Across Arkansas, Smart Nutrition Active People Education (SNAPED), Navigating the Financial Journey, Best Care, Guiding Children Successfully, Parenting Journey, Small Steps to Health and Wealth, Agribility and Endless Gardening. The Van Buren County Family and Consumer Science Subcommittee assist in planning the FCS programs based on county-wide needs assessments.

To learn more about the FCS programs offered in Van Buren County, call our office at 501-745-7117.


Photo of women and men in a fitness classThe Strong Women & Men Program is a community-based strength training program targeted to midlife and older Arkansans. Based on research conducted at Tuffs University, the program is designed to:
  • Improve strength, balance and flexibility             

  • Reduce the risk of falls

  • Help maintain independence

  • Help manage your weight

  • Increase energy

  • Decrease pain

  • Feel Better!!!

Classes meet for an hour at least twice a week, and each session includes a warm-up, 8-10 strengthening exercises, and a cool-down. This program provides a supportive group environment and is appropriate for all fitness levels. Strong Women & Men is evidence-based, safe, structured, and affordable. It costs $12 for the whole year and dumbbells and ankle weights are the only equipment you need.

For more information contact the Van Buren County Extension Office at (501) 745-7117, and come join the fun!

In Van Buren County, 75% of the youth qualified for free and reduced lunch, and 38% are overweight or obese. As a result, the VBC Advisory Council recommended implementing a nutritional education program in county schools because a healthy diet can lead to weight loss and lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

In Response, a nutrition education program was implemented at South Side Elementary in Van Buren County, Arkansas. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service provided 15 teachers and 18 volunteers training and materials to prepare them to present lessons which encouraged healthy eating and exercise. Lessons focused on healthy living choices and how the organs in the body function. The BodyWalk tour, ChopChop Magazines and food demonstrations provided a kinesthetic approach to the lesson.

As 288 participants traveled through the BodyWalk tour, they gained knowledge of how the body uses the food we eat. In follow-up lessons, sixty participants actively prepared healthy foods for their diet and all but three of the students tried the unusual recipes, Monster Smoothie with kale and Orzo Pasta.

There is a link between nutrition, physical activity, and the well-being of individuals and families. The typical Arkansas diet has too much fat and does not include enough fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. This diet, in conjunction with too little physical activity contributes to the development of serious health problems.

University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES), the Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services, and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service partner together to provide SNAP-Ed nutrition education to food stamp recipients and other eligible low-income individuals and families. The program is designed to teach skills that help participants to:

  • Buy and prepare healthful meals and snacks based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA Food Guidance System
  • Become more physically active
  • Improve safe handling, preparation, and storage of food
  • Develop spending and savings plans to make food dollars last throughout the month

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAPEd) has been conducted in Van Buren County during the past several years. In Van Buren, seventy-one percent of the students in the public schools are receiving free and reduced lunch. According to the BMI Classifications by county and public health region (2006-2007), 36.25% of the students tested in Van Buren County were at risk for overweight or overweight. The assessment also showed 38.5% of kindergarten-6th grade females were at risk for overweight or overweight compared to 36.4% of the males. According to Ozark Health voluntary surveys, 72% of the Van Buren County residents do not have regular physical activity and 85% eat fewer than five fruits and vegetables a day. The UACES Family and Consumer Agent in Van Buren County addresses these needs by delivering nutrition education in a variety of ways including:

  • School programs
  • Hands-on learning experiences
  • Food demonstrations
  • Small group discussions
  • Educational displays
  • Handouts
  • Newsletters

Southside FCS Class serving the Elementary grades Healthy Smoothies

Cooking with Extension-Cook Smart, Eat Smart Food tastings at South Side Bee Branch Elementary School

The mission of Arkansas Extension Homemakers is to empower individuals and families to achieve the best quality of life through:Continuing education, strengthening individuals, and families Developing personal skills through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.

Being a member Van Buren County Extension Homemakers (EH) means belonging to one of the largest adult volunteer organizations in Arkansas. EH members focus on issues affecting our community, our families and our world. Van Buren County has over 50 EH members and 7 county-wide clubs. The EH Volunteers provide many volunteer hours toward the betterment of Van Buren County and the state of Arkansas.

Van Buren County has a very active Extension Homemakers organization. Listed below are the active Extension Homemaker Clubs in the county. If you are interested in becoming involved in one of them or if you know a group that would like to start a new club contact Jessa Heavin at the Van Buren County Extension Office.

     Van Buren County EH Clubs

  • Alread meets at the Club House on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m. 
  • Chimes meets at the Community Building on the 4th Thursday of the month at 12:00 p.m. 
  • Damascus meets at the Community Building on the 2nd Friday at 10:00 a.m.
  • Davis Special meets at Shirley Church of Christ on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. 
  • Formosa meets at the Community Building on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. 
  • Highway 110 meets at Shady Grove Church on the 4th Monday of the month at 1:00 p.m.
  • Quilty Pleasures Club (contact for meeting times and location) 

Important Links:

Extension Homemakers Main Page

How do I become a member?


The Extension Wellness Ambassador Program engages community members to use their knowledge in service to others; twelve graduates are working to improve community health. Wellness Ambassador Projects include teaching senior exercise classes, yoga programs in the local schools, diabetes cooking classes, creating a local healthcare resource guide, and conducting personal success workshops. These projects reached 1,610 people with more than 80 educational sessions. Volunteers served more than 1,400 hours valued at $32,877 in the first year of the program. 

There is a need for such a program in Van Buren County because sixty-six percent of county residents are overweight or obese, 37% are sedentary, 31% have arthritis, and 11% are diabetic. Rural residents lack opportunities to be physically active and have limited access to programs addressing lifestyle behaviors. The Extension Wellness Ambassador program was implemented to address these issues.

We are so pleased to have a dedicated group of volunteers in our county willing to go out and be Extension Wellness Ambassadors.

“I was involved in the first Ambassador class. Our county was very active. The biggest benefit of the program was the enthusiasm of those members to pass the lessons learned on to the community.”      ~ Judge Roger W. Hooper

Program graduates improved their own health while they worked to help others, significantly improving functional fitness, including lower and upper body strength, aerobic endurance, and lower body flexibility. Ambassadors also significantly increased physical activity levels. Other health outcomes include:

- Increased confidence to take control of personal health (94%)

- Improved blood glucose (32%), total cholesterol (32%), and blood pressure (47%)

- Weight loss among overweight or obese participants (50%)

- 52% increased their physical activity.

"The Ambassador program has been a life changing event for me in my later years; I am able to do things that I haven't been able to do for 15 year, color has returned to my hair, I've lost weight, I have gained strength and I'm very excited. As an Ambassador, it’s been a joy watching changes in the participants. It's an all-encompassing program meant to change a life and lifestyle in a healthy eye opening way. I'm sold!"     ~ Carl Trahan-True

During the 2013-2014 year, they have made 2,749 educational contacts and their volunteer hours equal $169,779! 



Photo of a mother cow and a baby calf nursing

Van Buren County Agriculture

Van Buren County's most abundant agriculture commodity is beef cattle followed by a significant small ruminant population (goats and sheep) that face similar production issues. With the rising cost of inputs for livestock production such as feed, fertilizer, and hay, producers need methods to implement that reduce these costs. The University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture's Van Buren County Extension Office can provide you nonbiased research-base information to assist you in lowering your input costs to increase your profits and efficiency in livestock and forage production. Check out our program page to find out more information on 300 Days of Grazing, Soil Testing, Weed Control, Forage Production, Livestock Nutrition and Production to assist you with your production needs. Agriculture in Van Buren county is not limited to just livestock production. There are some commercial horticulture operations in the county. Many homeowners have various levels of interest in vegetable gardening, fruit production, landscaping, and lawn care. The Van Buren County Extension Service also provides researched based information for commercial and homeowner horticulture.

  • 300 Days Grazing Program
  • Cowherd Performance Testing
  • Livestock Nutrition and Ration Balancing
  • Small Ruminant Production Information
  • Farm Visits

  • Forage Testing 
  • Soil Testing
  • Pasture Weed ID and Control
  • Grazing Management
  • Farm Visits

Van Buren county forage photo - image of green grass in a field

In an effort to help livestock producers with managing their "bottom line," the 300 Day Grazing Program was developed. Since the cost of feed, fertilizer and fuel have increased, the goal of the 300 Day Grazing Program is to implement management changes to enhance the utilization of grown forages and reduce dependency on fertilizer, supplemental feed and fuel.

 Farm demonstrations were developed to illustrate management practices to increase the number of grazing days, reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer and to improve storing and hay-feeding efficiency. These demonstrations are designed to measure outcomes in order to determine savings or improved returns over conventional management. All livestock (beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, sheep and goats) can participate in and benefit from the 300 Day Grazing Program demonstrations. The demonstrations include: 

1) Stockpiled forages

a. warm season
b. cool season

2) Improving grazing management (rotational grazing)

3) Complimentary forages

a. winter annuals
b. summer annuals

4) Legume establishment

5) Efficient hay management

a. reducing storage loss
b. reducing feeding loss

Look Here for more information.

Van Buren county, Arkansas Pruning Tree at Local School
-Plant Diagnostic Service
-Soil Nematode Testing
-Soil Testing
-Plant Foliar Analysis
-Home Horticulture Fact Sheets
-Field Visits
-Lawn Weed ID and Control
-Insect ID and Control
- Master Gardener

Master Gardener Rose Garden at Ed Leamon Park
The state of Arkansas adopted the Master Gardener program in 1988 in four counties and it now exists in over half of Arkansas' seventy-five counties. The Master Gardener program began in Van Buren County around 1997. The program has grown to around 50 trained Master Gardener Volunteers in Van Buren County. Annual Master Gardener training class is held each year in November and December. There are many opportunities for Master Gardeners to volunteer in projects such planting and maintaining gardens around the county, educational events, and the annual plant sale. New volunteers receive an initial 40 hours of fee based training and in return give 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of learning service back to the program. The training is conducted in conjunction with Cleburne, Stone, and Searcy Counties. For more information on the Van Buren County Master Gardener Program you can email Danny Griffin, County Extension Agent – Staff Chair, at

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Master Gardeners meet as a group annually in various locations around the state hosted by the local Master Gardener program. This two-day event is an opportunity to participate in workshops, seminars, tour local private and public gardens, and visit with other Master Gardeners.

Another opportunity for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Master Gardener exists in the form of the annual horticulture tour currently hosted by Janet Carson, Cooperative Extension Horticulture Specialist and State Master Gardener Program Coordinator. Previous destinations have included Chicago, Great Britain, and the Biltmore Estate.


Master Gardener bed at the County Annex Building

Van Buren County Community & Economic Development

The Van Buren County Extension Service has many opportunities for individuals to volunteer and hone up on their leadership skills. One volunteer program offered is the Van Buren County Master Gardener program consisting of 45 Master Gardeners in 2012 that provided over 2000 Service Volunteer hours in various projects from Ed Leamon Park in Fairfield Bay to the Van Buren County Courthouse Annex in Clinton. These members also donated over 1,100 hours in training and educational time to keep them up to speed on the latest horticulture information. The Van Buren County Extension office also offers opportunities in Extension Homemakers Clubs, 4-H Clubs,and the New Extension Wellness Ambassador Program for you to hone your leadership skills in volunteer roles.  


  • Agritourism provides opportunities for agricultural diversification and rural tourism development.
  • The Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center (APAC) provides training, technical assistance and resources to help Arkansas businesses sell products and services to public agencies and their contractors.
  • Annual Income Tax Schools provide updates on policies, procedures and new tax legislation for tax professionals that meet continuing education unit standards.
  • Social Media for Small Business teaches business owners and managers how to use tools like blogs, social networking, photos and videos to enhance their bottom line.


The Lead Arkansas (LeadAR) program is a two year life-changing event for emerging Arkansas leaders from rural and urban communities. Our goal is to increase participants' knowledge and understanding of the economic and social changes affecting our state through the practical application of leadership skills and development of expertise to address critical problems facing their communities. The training is focused on basic skills in communications, interpersonal relations, networking, economics, policy formation, role of government, and social and cultural understanding. Men and women in this program explore the legislative process; the long-term effects of our government's agriculture, trade, and economic policies; and current issues facing our state in education, health, water, economic development, and criminal justice. The program consists of 11 three-day seminars held in communities all over Arkansas. Seminars are conducted by political and business leaders, state and federal agency personnel, university staff, and others. Each class participates in a twelve day study tour to another state and Washington, D.C. to learn about issues beyond our borders and those affecting our nation. If funds are available, each class will also participate in a two week study tour to another country to learn about a culture different from our own and another system of government.

Ballot Issues

Historically, many voters go into the ballot booth with little or no knowledge of each measure they are asked to vote upon and often their decision is based on a brief written description or the memory of the last commercial they saw. The Public Policy Center helps Arkansas voters understand the impact of a statewide ballot issue by producing easy-to-read, research-based fact sheets. The center also provides similar services at the local level when requested by a community. The Van Buren County Extension office will have these types of fact sheets available and on display up to early voting on display for distribution at the Van Buren County Annex located at 1414 Hwy 65 S in Clinton. At beginning of early voting the displays with available fact sheets are generally available at public places such as the Van Buren County Library.