Local extension agent gets national awards
Monticello’s Hope Bragg, a 4-H agent and Staff Chair with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension in Desha County, has been recognized for the archeological programs she has implemented across the state with the Denise Miller National 4-H Innovator Award. That annual honor is bestowed upon a program that meets the highest standard of quality and innovation.
Bragg received her accolades at the recent National Association of Extension 4-H Agents’ annual meeting in Indianapolis. She also is the incoming president of the Arkansas Archeological Society—and will discuss the past, present and future of the society at a meeting sponsored the local AAS Tunican Chapter.
That gathering will take place at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday at the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s School of Forestry and Natural Resources conference room. Bragg, who holds her bachelor’s degree in Forestry and master’s degrees in both Forestry and Elementary Education, was elevated to the AAS position she currently holds in October.
She has combined her two disciplines by instituting a program that utilizing archeology to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills with 4-H in Desha County. That’s what drew her national attention.
When a person initially thinks about 4-H, they often envision State Fairs, kids showing livestock, or sewing and cooking. Today 4-H is so much more, with three main initiative areas—healthy living, citizenship and STEM—being emphasized across the nation.
The National 4-H Council, partnering with the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents, promotes the award that recognizes the innovations of 4-H educators in honor of the timeless contributions of former council associate Denise Miller. As a memorial tribute to Miller, her family and friends have created the Innovator Award to continue the work which she was so committed.
During 2017, a total of five archeological 4-H experiences were offered, including mapping of the Rohwer Internment Camp in Desha County. Youth have the opportunity, through 4-H, to participate in archeological research with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, located both in Monticello and Pine Bluff. “Days of Archeology,” where youth participate in hands-on learning experiences related to history and archeology, were also offered in Helena, historic Washington State Park, Cass and Fayetteville.
In addition to the Miller Innovator Award, Bragg also received the Achievement in Service Award for outstanding contributions to 4-H. This award is for 4-H agents who have been with extension for over three years and contribute to both local and state programs.
In her role as AAS president, Bragg helps people understand archeology has a vital role in education. In 1960, a group of individuals sharing a common interest in preserving Arkansas’s cultural heritage formed a society for “week-end archeologists.”
Led by pioneers in Arkansas archeology, such as Dr. Charles McGimsey, Hester Davis and Sam Dellinger, the AAS was formed to involve the “Sunday afternoon arrowhead hunters” in the documentation of archaeological sites, so that valuable history was not lost.
Next Tuesday at UAM, Bragg will highlight the history of the society and its future as an organization that works with professional archaeologists to do “citizen science” and preserve Arkansas’s rich cultural heritage.
The AAS is a state-wide group of people interested in the archeology and history of The Natural State. The organization hosts an annual training program in archeology, and includes chapters across the state. The Tunican Chapter of the AAS—of which Bragg is a longtime member—in conjunction with the Drew County Historical Society, holds a monthly speaker series on the first Tuesday of each month in the spring and fall. These events, which are also sponsored by UAM’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the UAM Research Station of the Arkansas Archeological Survey, feature programs on local history and archaeology. The events are free and open to the public.
Bragg also serves Cub Pack 69 and Boy Scout Troop 67 as a volunteer, and teaches religious education for St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Monticello.