By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN As part of National 4-H week, local 4-H groups are spreading the word about the organization and how Dassel-Cokato area youth can get involved and have some fun.
The Dassel Lamplighters 4-H group currently has 32 members, which is up about seven from last year, according to Marcia Dischinger, one of the group’s leaders.
The club meets once a month at 6:30 p.m. on the first Sunday at Dassel Covenant Church.
With a wide range of activities to participate in, several of its members went on from the Meeker County Fair to present at the State Fair.
By being involved in 4-H, youth learn how to become good leaders and make wise decisions, Dischinger explained, who has had three of her children in 4-H.
“I think kids are able to really grow in their knowledge and self-confidence by being in 4-H,” she said.
Though a large part of 4-H includes individual projects and showing animals, there are several projects done throughout the year as a group, according to Dischinger.
Much of the focus is on community service and giving back in a number of ways.
For example, the Dassel Lamplighters helped clean up Breeds Park last May.
They have also collected Toys for Tots and food items for the food shelf.
As a mother/daughter project, Joelle Woetzel and daughter Brooke planted flowers at the Dassel Post Office with funds from the club.
To spread the word about 4-H, the club made a window display for National 4-H Week at Peterson Pharmacy, and the club will also be visiting Dassel Elementary third graders this week.
The Dassel Lamplighters will host a family potluck banquet Sunday, Nov. 7 for the installation of officers, presentation of awards, and to kick off the new year, according to Dischinger.
For more information or to join, contact Dischinger at (320) 275-2017 or come to a meeting.
Knapp Busy Bees
Despite a declining membership, Knapp Busy Bees 4-H club continues to be active.
Current membership is about 13, with several members having graduated and moved on to college, according to Monica Tenhoff, one of the key leaders for the Cokato club.
Children as young as in kindergarten can be in 4-H through the Discovery Kids Club if they have a sibling in 4-H, according to Tenhoff. Otherwise, children can join in first grade, and continue in 4-H through their first year in college if they choose to.
With credible educational materials through the University of Minnesota Extension Service, there is a wide variety of topics for 4-H members to explore, according to Tenhoff.
Whether it be photography, aerospace, or building with Legos, 4-H “has an emphasis on learning that is fun for the kids,” Tenhoff said.
“Our kids joined 4-H because they like to make things,” she said.
As a club, members participated in a consumer education project that would not only help them become wise shoppers, but also give to a good cause.
Last January, Knapp Busy Bees members were given a shopping list with items to purchase for the Cokato Area Foodshelf.
They were given $30 and were encouraged to use coupons, scope out advertisements for sales, and shop at more than one store for the best deals.
Many of the members also were able to make a project out of this to enter in the Wright County Fair, Tenhoff said.
“Not only are you doing stuff for yourself, but for others,” Tenhoff said. She referred to the 4-H’s pledge: “I Pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
The Knapp Busy Bees meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Cokato Township Hall.
Those interested in learning more about Knapp Busy Bees are encouraged to come to one of the meetings or call Tenhoff at (320) 286-2516, or Lori Dahlman at (320) 286-5756.
What is 4-H?
According to Meeker County 4-H Program Coordinator Darcy Cole, 4-H is Minnesota’s only youth development program directly connected to the technological advances and latest research of the University of Minnesota.
Members of 4-H learn leadership, citizenship, and life skills through hands-on projects in science, foods and nutrition, healthy living, citizenship, and many others. Topics are as varied as rocketry, arts and crafts, public speaking, photography, nutrition, and community service.
Through 4-H, members help the community’s young people reach their full potential, Cole said.
Recent studies show youth who participate in 4-H do better in school, are more motivated to help others, feel safe to try new things, achieve a sense of self-esteem, and develop lasting friendships, according to Cole.
In Meeker County, more than 400 4-H members and 135 volunteers are involved in 4-H, which is open to anyone from kindergarten through freshman year of college.
Known as one of the largest youth development organizations in America, there are more than 6.5 million young people ages 5-19 involved in 4-H, along with 538,000 volunteers, 3,500 staff, and 60 million alumni.