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Keeping It Green -- National 4-H -- Part 2

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Although there are many subjects to choose from for this column, it only seems appropriate to continue the discussion from last week. This week, Oct. 5-11, is the observance of National 4-H Week. This program has and is making a major impact on many young people in this area and there is still the potential to enroll more into this program.

This year's theme of "Keeping It Green" has many implications for our society and during the history of 4-H it has been on the cutting edge of introducing new concepts, practices and knowledge.

This week you will be reading and hearing more about the 4-H program. This is the time of year when clubs start membership drives to. It is also an appropriate time to start new clubs. There are other models to deliver the 4-H programs, including special interest groups and school enrichment programs.

For many years the clubs were one project clubs, such as beef, corn, foods, sewing and other projects. This changed when E. J. Evans, of Bates County, became the first person to introduce the multi-project club, which is called a community club. In Missouri, most 4-H clubs are now community clubs.

In the 4-H program, life skills are emphasized that help boys and girls to develop into productive citizens. There are many ways that they learn to accept responsibilities. They learn interpersonal relationships by working and playing with others and they find ways to serve their club and their community.

An example of boys and girls, parents and leaders working together on a major effort was the annual chicken barbecue held last Saturday evening. In a sense, this event was the beginning of the observance of National 4-H Week in Vernon County. Last Saturday, there were a large number of volunteers working on this event to help make it successful. It also took a lot of effort to get it organized and planned. Effort also went into selling the tickets in advance.

This one event demonstrates how 4-H families work together and at the same time have good learning experiences. The chicken barbecue is a major fundraising event for the 4-H council.

As I mentioned last week, "The Clover," is a catalog of Missouri 4-H programs, projects, events and publications. This publication is available to 4-H families and contains a wealth of information about 4-H.

Included in the 4-H program for those enrolled in food animal projects, (beef, sheep, swine, dairy cattle, meat and dairy goats, rabbits and poultry) is the 4-H Food Quality Assurance Policy. Each member of these projects must complete the appropriate level of Missouri Show-Me Quality Assurance certification to be considered a 4-H member in good standing in that project. Other county good standing guidelines may also apply. According to "The Clover," food animal project members showing at the state fair should be prepared to present their MSMQA card at check-in.

With the effort of living up to the National 4-H Week theme of "Keeping It Green," there are many opportunities for 4-H members to carry out this theme in most projects, including several new projects that have been introduced in recent years. Many of these projects appear to be especially interesting, although many of the traditional projects remain interesting to members and provide great learning opportunities.

Among those projects is conservation, which includes identifying Missouri wildflowers, making casts of wild animal tracks or building a bat house. This unit is all about nature and the great outdoors. Members can learn hands-on about wildlife, streams, and rivers and how to protect and show respect for the land. Because this unit utilizes the Conservation Frontier curriculum from the Missouri Department of Conservation, members can qualify for an award that is given out for each of the 13 achievement levels.

Entrepreneurs are important in our society and members can gain knowledge about entrepreneurship by enrolling in the entrepreneurship project. This program is designed for members in grades 7-12. Members in this project can do what they love and love what they do by starting their own business as an entrepreneur. This is a challenging project and is a good way for a young person to start their own business, which can relate to another project such as crafts and photography.

There are many interesting projects available and I have not included the group activities that members become involved in with a group. There are many opportunities in the program including attending conferences and going on trips. Many 4-H members have met other 4-H members who have become their life time friends (or mates such as Mark and Harva Miller).

Get involved with the 4-H program of "Keeping It Green." For additional information contact a 4-H leader in your community. There is always a need for additional clubs. It could be that you are the person to start a new club.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large