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12/5/2013 12:48:00 PM
Overcoming Obstacles curriculum sets youth on the right path
By Trisha Gedon

Oklahoma State University recently was named the recipient of the Achievement in Education Award by the Community for Education Foundation (CEF). The recognition is for OSU's partnership with the CFE to bring the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program to Oklahoma youth.

Included in the recognition is the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program for being the vehicle in which Overcoming Obstacles is distributed.

Cathy Allen, OSU Cooperative Extension 4-H curriculum coordinator, and Lynn Null, Extension educator in Comanche County, were on hand when the award was presented in New York City to OSU President Burns Hargis. Also on hand for the presentation were OSU first lady Ann Hargis and OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens.

"OSU in honored to receive this wonderful award," Hargis said. "We owe a special thanks to 4-H employees Lynn Null and Cathy Allen, who worked hard to bring the Overcoming Obstacles Program to Oklahoma youth. OSU is proud of its heritage as a land-grant university and this is another way we can serve the people of our state."

Allen said Overcoming Obstacles mirrors the philosophy of the 100-year-old 4-H program, so it is a perfect way to get the curriculum out to Oklahoma youth.

"The Oklahoma 4-H Program has a presence in all 77 counties and is the catalyst for introducing this wonderful life-skills development program to our youth," Allen said. "To be successful, students need more than traditional academic courses.

Overcoming Obstacles teaches important life skills such as communication, decision making and goal setting, all of which are critical in order to be successful in life."

The curriculum, geared toward middle school through high school students, has more than 500 activities and 180 hours of instruction that engage in activity-based, hands-on lessons.

The ever-evolving curriculum is structured to allow teachers or school counselors to teach the program for an hour a day for a full academic year. The CEF provides all materials free of charge. The lessons also can be broken down and taught individually to parallel with a specific school lesson.

"What is really great about this curriculum is it also can be used beyond the classroom in settings such as 4-H clubs, 4-H camp programs and after-school programs," she said. "It's a very versatile program with many uses."

High school students who participate in Overcoming Obstacles also focus on college and career readiness, as well as learn strategies and techniques that enable them to plan for a continuing education; complete applications for scholarships, grants and loans; prepare employment applications and resumes; perform well in employment interviews; excel on the job and develop financial responsibility.

Allen said currently Oklahoma has about 36 counties with trained instructors who are starting to implement Overcoming Obstacles in classrooms and other settings. Overcoming Obstacles has a proven track record. Over the past two decades, the CEF has helped nearly 3 million students improve their academic achievement, graduate from high school and prepare for college and careers," she said.

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