Please consider making a year-end gift, or a monthly recurring gift, so that
more youth can become the next generation of leaders in our community!

Meet the Student Ambassadors for Community Health!

They believe that, no matter your age, if you set your mind on a goal, you are capable of making positive change! Please take a moment to listen to two students describe the impact this program has had on their lives in the video.

When you make a gift to Middle Earth, you help hundreds of teens develop good character, improve academics, learn workplace skills, prepare for college, overcome difficult life circumstances, and make positive decisions.

The generosity of donors, just like you, ensure that youth, whose circumstances might lead them down a path to unemployment, poverty, or risky behaviors, are instead taught life skills and given support to become leaders who make positive contributions to our community.

Please make a tax-deductible donation today!


The Story Behind the Student Ambassadors

“Why are you here?” a neighbor asked in an unfriendly tone. Koby, a member of the 4-H / Middle Earth Student Ambassadors for Community Health, was surprised. The students were in a rundown, neglected park, taking measurements so that they could renovate the space into a beautiful community resource. Initially, their efforts were met with skepticism because residents felt that no one cared about their neighborhood. Over the next few months, the Student Ambassadors completely turned that notion around!

The Student Ambassador program was started through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson New Jersey Health Initiatives and is jointly led by Middle Earth and Somerset County 4-H. The students come from neighborhoods with high unemployment and low incomes. They are very motivated, but unfortunately, don’t have the resources or support to achieve their highest potential.

Each year, a new group of Student Ambassadors is formed. They work together with town officials and agencies to identify social factors that impact a community’s overall health and address them to improve the area. Two summers ago, the first group of Student Ambassadors created a parklet, street murals and colorful crosswalks near schools to improve street safety. Studies show that improving street safety in an area also improves the mental health of the area residents. Their work earned eight different awards from our state, county, and 4-H!

This past summer, the newest group of Student Ambassadors transformed a neglected park. They chose this project to promote unity in the community, healthy living for residents, safety for younger children, and revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood. Building on the work of the Bound Brook Garden Committee to create a community garden, the students added beautiful landscaping, grilling space, art murals, crosswalks, a free library with books in English and Spanish, picnic tables, and an educational seating area. During the project, the teens invited the community to events in the park, such as an outdoor yoga class and craft sessions. The neighbors soon became their allies, bringing them drinks and snacks and taking time to connect with them. The residents’ attitudes went from cynical to awestruck. Koby, who was surprised by the residents’ initial distrust, was delighted when over 100 people came to the park’s grand reopening and were genuinely positive about the changes!

The Student Ambassador program instills skills in leadership, business, government operations, public speaking, problem-solving, teamwork, and creativity. At the completion of the project, the teenagers are completely transformed. These students from areas of low employment, incomes and education are now teens filled with confidence, hope, and the desire, pride, and knowledge of how to make a real difference in their community. They learned to find their voice and effectively present their ideas to town council members, professors, and peers.

This is just one of many programs at Middle Earth that helps youth to make a difference in our communities and to learn skills that prepare them for a responsible adulthood. Would you consider making an investment that develops local teens into our next generation of leaders and improves our communities through youth volunteer service? When you donate to Middle Earth, you are ensuring that youth, whose circumstances might lead them down a path to unemployment, poverty, or risky behaviors, are instead taught life skills and given support to become leaders who make positive contributions to our local area. These transformations improve the future health of our community!

Your tax-deductible gift helps youth learn the skills and gain the confidence they need to become the next generation of leaders in our community!