Diversity Award (individual)

Octaviano Merecias accepts the 2012 Diversity Award from Dave King and Scott Reed
Octaviano Merecias accepts the 2012 Diversity Award from Dave King and Scott Reed

Octaviano Merecias College of Public Health and Human Sciences, 4-H Tech Wizards Program

As a former 4-H student, Octaviano Merecias knows all about the program’s value for underrepresented youth. Now he’s the coordinator of the 4-H Tech Wizards program in Washington County, and he has returned to his community to provide the same guidance that once benefited him so greatly.

This year his program partnered with the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council and South Meadows Middle School to help youth learn photography and interview skills as they develop portraits of each other and people in their neighborhood. The program encourages students to develop a sense of empowerment and connection to their community.

Octaviano’s Tech Wizards also traveled to this summer’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., where his group gave popular demonstrations on solar-powered objects, a mobile digital photo lab and plenty more.

Octaviano has eagerly taken on the issue of high dropout rates and low achievement of underrepresented students in secondary education. Thanks in part to his holistic leadership, about 90 percent of the Tech Wizards in grades 9-11 are on track to advance to the next level, and about 95 percent of Tech Wizards in 12th grade are on track to graduate.

Octaviano has an innate ability to find new ways for 4-H and Extension to meet community needs and help youths lead self-sufficient lives. It is with great honor that I present Octaviano Merecias with this year’s Diversity Award.

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