By Kristen Miller
It’s National 4-H Week a great time to recognize the local clubs and their leaders for their hard work and service to their community throughout the year.
Minnesota 4-H is a youth development program provided through the University of Minnesota Extension.
The 4-H mission is to engage youth in quality learning opportunities that enable them to shape and reach their full potential as active citizens in a global community.
Last year, more than 113,000 kids throughout Minnesota participated in 4-H and learned invaluable life skills while meeting developmental needs of independence, belonging, generosity, and mastery.
It is also an opportunity for 4-H youth have fun while they learn, grow, and reach their full potential.
Melissa and Jeff Weckwerth have three kids who are involved in 4-H.
“We think that 4-H is a wonderful organization that allows kids to be a part of project-based learning, as well as a great place for kids of all ages to interact with one another in different areas,” Melissa said.
By being involved in 4-H, members 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, and nutrition.
“We also believe it is beneficial since 4-H is a community organization where the kids have opportunities to volunteer and utilize their individual skills in trying to create a better community,” she said.
For example, the Dassel Lamplighters helped pack food at Dassel Covenant Church for Food For Kidz as part of a service opportunity last spring.
The youth in 4-H also have fun, which Melissa can attest to.
“The best part is that the kids look forward to going, and having fun with all the other members,” she said.
It is also one of the largest youth development organizations in America, with more than 6.5 million young people ages 5-19, 538,000 volunteers, 3,500 staff, and 60 million alumni.
In the Dassel and Cokato area, there are two 4-H clubs Dassel Lamplighters and Knapp Busy Bees.
Marcia Dischinger has been the key leader of the Dassel Lamplighters for six years and has been a 4-H mom for 19 years. Growing up, she was also in 4-H herself and can attest that members will get out of it what they put into it.
“They can learn so much and grow in self-confidence,” Dischinger said, adding it’s also a place where friendships grow.
Dassel Lamplighters currently has 38 members, which has grown from last year’s membership of 25.
Since the 4-H year begins in October, there will soon be elections for new officers, Dischinger explained.
The Dassel Lamplighters meets the first Sunday of each month at Dassel Covenant Church (lower level) at 6:30 p.m., unless otherwise scheduled.
For more information, contact Dischinger at (320) 275-2017 or the Meeker County Extension Service at (320) 693-5275.
Knapp Busy Bees has roughly 20 members and meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Centennial Room of the Cokato Public Library.
Those interested in learning more about Knapp Busy Bees should contact Monica Tenhoff at (320) 286-2516 or the Wright County Extension Service at (763) 682-7394.