Virginia Beach 4-H agent works to expand learning opportunities in science, farming

Jonette Mungo became the 4-H extension agent in Virginia Beach this year. She is working to grow the important base of volunteers and spread the word about science and agriculture throughout Virginia’s most populous city. [David B. Hollingsworth/For The Princess Anne Independent News]
Ed. — From the Sunday, Aug. 8, print edition.


COURTHOUSE — Jonette Mungo, the Virginia Beach 4-H agent for youth leadership and development, hopes to continue to grow the 4-H volunteer base, expand programs into urban and suburban neighborhoods of the city and incorporate more STEM programs into activities for young people.

Mungo began work with the Virginia Beach Department of Agriculture in April.  She came here after working as a 4-H agent in Carroll County, but her the path to Virginia Beach was a long one that started in her hometown of Zuni. 

Mungo’s grandparents were Zuni farmers who raised grain, hogs and chickens. As a 4-H member and the grandchild of farmers, she learned to love the outdoors, animals and gardening.

She also loved theater. 

After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, she began a 15-year career teaching English, theater, introduction to humanities and film and theater production. She remained interested in her rural roots, however, and returned to school to pursue a master’s degree in natural resources and global sustainability.

Growing up in a rural community prompted an interest in animal science and soil sustainability, but Mungo said you don’t have to be a rural kid to become interested in science through gardening or animal care.

“I plan to build a relationship with communities so that they understand what 4-H can offer,” Mungo said, adding that she plans to contact neighborhood associations to discuss 4-H opportunities with them.

Mungo also hopes to work with Virginia Beach schools to integrate more agriculture science into the curriculum.  

The opportunities for using agriculture to spin off into many areas of science and technology – including robotics and computer science, are unlimited, she said.  Finance and management can also be part of 4-H programs. 

Right now, Mungo’s busy preparing for the annual regional 4-H camp, scheduled this month at the Southeast 4-H Educational Center in Wakefield. She’s brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to this, said 4-H volunteer adult leader Kathy Williams.

“She has the energy, and she has the knowledge,” said Williams, who also works for the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation.  She added that special planning was required for this camp because of restrictions related to the pandemic, but Mungo’s knowledge and experience proved helpful.

“She plays a vital role in the organization and in training camp counsellors,” Williams said, “and she has a knowledge of 4-H and of Virginia Tech that is useful.”

Mungo’s also been working with the city parks department on their summer youth programs, and she’s had the chance to incorporate science into these programs.

Even something as simple as pet care can be a springboard to a physics lesson, Mungo said, because animals are “a little physics in motion.”

She hopes to establish 4-H K-9 Clubs throughout the city, and she’s appealing to adults to volunteer for these programs.

Working with the existing volunteers has been one of her job’s greatest pleasures so far, Mungo said.

“Virginia Beach has strong 4-H programs, and volunteers are the heart and soul of it,” she said.

Jonette Mungo, Virginia Beach’s 4-H extension agent for youth leadership and development, works with young people during a summer program at Diamond Springs Elementary School on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. [David B. Hollingsworth/For The Princess Anne Independent News]

Call (757) 385-4769 for more information about 4-H in Virginia Beach or to volunteer.

© 2021 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC



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