By Starrla Cray
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Whether it’s science, horticulture, dairy, or photography, local 4-H clubs provide hands-on learning for young people with a wide variety of interests.
Sunday, Oct. 4 through Saturday, Oct. 10 is National 4-H Week, celebrating more than 100 years of the program.
There are two 4-H clubs in the area, including the Dassel Lamplighters and the Knapp Busy Bees. Both are open to people in kindergarten through one year post high school.
The Dassel Lamplighters 4-H Club has had a steady increase in the number of participants in past years, and currently has a membership of 26. According to leader Marcia Dischinger, the group is relatively young, with most members in the third to fifth grade range.
The Knapp Busy Bees, which was organized May 26, 1937, is known as the oldest club in Wright County. It meets once a month, and members participate in a variety of service and educational activities.
In the past, the club participated in the community by making cookies for the Red Cross Bloodmobile blood drive, working at the American Dairy Association’s malt stand at the Cokato Corn Carnival, planting flowers at the Cokato nursing home, and helping at the annual lutefisk supper.
The Dassel Lamplighters also are involved in a wide range of activities. They participate in Share the Fun, a yearly activity that lets clubs get together to act out original skits that promote 4-H.
Last spring, the event took place in Litchfield at the family services building. The Dassel Lamplighters did a skit called, “Cloverella,” which was written by 4-H member Elizabeth Cron.
The club also does volunteer work at the Lakeview Ranch, planting flowers, cleaning nearby ditches, and decorating for Christmas.
Fair time is also a big highlight of 4-H.
“At least six kids were down at the state fair for animal projects,” said Dassel Lamplighter leader Catherine Baumann.
The 4-H Dairy Judging Team and 4-H Dairy Knowledge Bowl went to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI for national competition Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, said Jim Salfer, whose sons, Isaac and Lucas, participated in the event.
One misconception when it comes to 4-H is that it is focused solely on animals, Dischinger said.
“It’s so much more,” she said. “They have a project and a program for every interest. It’s great for education.”
A few years ago, a shooting sports program was implemented in Meeker County, Dischinger said.
“This year, we’ll have 10 students involved in that,” she said.
Some of the programs listed on the 4-H web site include aerospace, finances, forestry, communications, and embryology, along with several others.
“If you have a career you’d like to get into, there is a project you can work on to get to those goals,” Dischinger said.
People interested in 4-H are encouraged to start at a young age. Kindergarten through second grade children are known as “Clover buds,” Dischinger said. This means that they can show their projects at fairs, but they are not officially judged.
The Dassel Lamplighter 4-H officers for 2008-09 are: Carmen Dischinger, president; Elizabeth Cron, vice president; Ryan Bjork, secretary; Brooke Woetzel, treasurer, Dakota Cron, reporter. The 2009-10 officers will be elected at the Nov. 1 meeting.
For more information, contact Marcia Dischinger at (320) 275-2017, Catherine Baumann at (320) 286-2199, or the Meeker County Extension Office at (320) 693-5275.
For more information about Knapp Busy Bees, contact Tenhoff at (320) 286-2516 or Lori Dahlman at (320) 286-5756.