Local 4-H clubs getting involved

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2006

4-H programs around the country aren&8217;t just for kids with goats, horses and farms anymore. These days, 4-Hers are students involved in everything from power-point presentations, to photography and cooking.

Just ask Dalta Garrett, a member of the Hope Christian 4-H club. &8220;I did a leadership portfolio on electric energy,&8221; she said. Her project took her to the 4-H State Congress in Auburn where she competed against other 4-H students with projects.

Micah Waddell, 4-H Agent Assistant at the Shelby County Extension Office explained the new emphasis on a wide variety of topics appeals more to students now, who have less agricultural experience than past generations of 4-Hers. Now, in addition to livestock competitions students can compete in county competition in a wide range of skills. &8220;We do photography contest, Extreme birdhouse,&8221; Waddell said. &8220;We do a public speaking contest, power point presentation, and with the healthy living section they do a barbeque chicken competition.&8221;

October 1-7 is the first ever National 4-H Week, a time where Waddell and the Garrett family promote 4-H by passing out brochures and doing community service around each club&8217;s community.

&8220;Hopefully it will encourage youth to call and enquire and hopefully start new clubs or place kids in clubs that are already formed,&8221; Waddell said.

The primary purpose of 4-H program, she said, is to further youth&8217;s positive attributes such as leadership, healthy lifestyles and community service. The program emphasizes a &8220;learning by doing&8221; philosophy, proven to help youth who are involved in 4-H be more successful in school, have a stronger concern for others, show more self-confidence and develop strong friendships.

Garrett&8217;s mother had similar opinions of the programs. She said, &8220;The goal of 4-H is developing children and instilling leadership skills in them. At first I was skeptical but I seen through the years with my kids. They actually are really responsible for something.&8221;

Through 4-H, parents are also given the opportunity to be responsible as a volunteer group leader. &8220;My mom has been a volunteer leader since I was 8. It&8217;s kind of a family thing we&8217;ve always done,&8221; Garrett said.

4-H is pushing now to be more volunteer-led, and Bill Garrett, Dalta&8217;s father was recently elected as president for the state volunteer association next year.

The Shelby County 4-H Program has a variety of Clubs such as wildlife, horse, goat, archery, shooting sports, forestry and community clubs. For more information contact the County Extension Office at 669-6763 or go to www.aces.edu/fourh/ to learn more