Farm Horizons, May 2002

4-H is for both rural and town kids

By Julie Yurek

Four-H is an organization that focuses on educating children with a twist of fun. The club is for all kids, whether they live in town or rural areas.

City kids mix with country kids, since the common belief that 4-H is all about agriculture isn't true any longer.

The club is part of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, so it is based on university research about kids and learning, according to the club's web site, www.fourh.umn.edu.

2002 marks the organization's 100th anniversary.

Marysville Merrymakers

The Marysville Merrymakers 4-H club is family oriented, key leader Karen Erickson said. "It's not a club where parents drop their kids off and pick them up an hour later. Parents are involved."

Parents are adult leaders in project areas where they have knowledge of the activity.

Erickson is the adult leader for horses, she said.

"We are there for guidance, but the children must gather the information for their presentations," Erickson said.

Meetings are the third Monday of the month at St. John's Lutheran Church in Howard Lake at 7:15 p.m.

The children play games from 7:15 to 7:30 while the adults discuss any ideas or issues, and the junior officers gather together their notes for the meeting, Erickson said.

The members are from the local surrounding area, like Howard Lake, Waverly, and Maple Lake, Erickson said.

The junior officers conduct the meeting, she said.

The children also volunteer throughout the year.

Volunteering has included the 43 members making turkey nutholders and delivering the Thanksgiving goodies to New Beginnings in Waverly, Erickson said.

The club also cleaned area ditches, parent Kim Youngren said.

Fundraising is also a part of 4-H. Members sell butter braids, a croissant like bread with fruit filling, in order to raise money for the club, Youngren said.

The group has also worked at Deer Lake Apple Orchard in Buffalo for fundraising, Youngren said.

The club plans different activities throughout the year. A recent outing the club had was when they went swimming in March, Erickson said.

Members are also winning awards in the project areas. The most common projects are in dairy, horse, swine, dogs, rabbits, gardening, and clothing, Youngren said.

To prepare for the county fair, the club has a 4-H "parade of homes," Erickson said. "Members and their families see a demonstration of the project by the child who lives there."

A major accomplishment by the club is taking first place in the Share the Fun competition at the Wright County Fair last year, Youngren said.

Share the Fun is a skit written by the 15 or so "cast" members. The members then performed it at the state fair, she added.

"Our 4-H is a goal-reaching club," Erickson said. "Everyone helps one another."

The Lucky Loons

The Lucky Loons 4-H club is very family focused, key leader Vickie Nibbe said. "Parent involvement is important."

The 2001 school year is the first year for the Lucky Loons. Members are mostly homeschooled children, Nibbe said.

"Anyone is welcome to attend. Most adults and children can't make the meetings at that time on a Friday afternoon, so that's why most members are homeschooled children," Nibbe said.

Currently, the group meets every Friday at the Buffalo Library at 1 p.m. for project meetings, Nibbe said.

However, that will be changing sometime in the future, she said.

The project meetings will instead be determined by each adult project leader, Nibbe said.

Each adult is responsible for teaching and assisting a project area. "Most parents have a topic they know well," Nibbe said.

Areas that parents know well include clowning, photography, shop, crocheting, anthropology, and food and nutrition, Nibbe stated.

A total of 18 members compose the Lucky Loons, but only 13 actively attend the meetings, Nibbe said. Most families are from the Buffalo area. However, there are two Howard Lake families that are members, she said.

The active members are currently third grade or above, she said.

Club members have put the skills and information they learned from their projects into use. The children have done clowning and face painting, musical performances, and art projects at the Karrington Commons assisted living for seniors in Buffalo, Nibbe said.

Members try to do one learning project a month. The club planted 100 trees in Ney Park, north of Maple Lake May 3, Nibbe said.

This newly formed club placed second in Share the Fun this past year, Nibbe said. The competition took place recently at Discovery School in Buffalo.

The participating members will perform the six-minute skit at the county fair too, she said.

Nibbe and her family were a part of the Marysville Merrymakers. She wanted to get more involved and friends would ask her about the club, so she decided to start a new one, she said.

She contacted the Wright County Extension Office for information on starting a 4-H club.

She had to get an employee identification number from the government because 4-H is a non-profit organization, she said.

The identification number allowed Nibbe to get a bank account for the club's fundraising and expenses.

The Lucky Loons worked at Deer Lake apple orchard in Buffalo for fundraising and to promote community awareness of 4-H, Nibbe said.

"We are a very active group," Nibbe said. "You get out of it what you put into it." n

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