Feeling green this week?
Well, there's good reason. It's National 4-H Week Oct. 7-13.
Green, as in 4-H clover green, is the in color, as we celebrate the great youth programs available through 4-H.
I'm a 4-H'er through and through. I remember my first 4-H calf (Daisy May, a gorgeous Simmental heifer), my first sewing project, (a flannel sleepshirt, which was finished in the car, on the way to the fair), and my first view of the nation's capitol, courtesy of the Citizenship-Washington Focus trip I took as a 17-year-old.
4-H has been a part of my family's life for nearly as long as there has BEEN 4-H (OK, my parents aren't THAT old, but they were 4-H'ers too!).
Three of us have even worked for Iowa State University Extension as 4-H Program Coordinators: my mom, my sister, and me. Sister Kris Keene still holds that position in O'Brien County.
My son Drew had so many great experiences in 4-H. He polished his public speaking skills through presentations and working exhibits. He sharpened his photographic eye with ever-more creative photo shoots. He got to follow his mom's footsteps on the Citizenship Washington Focus trip, and he also was selected to represent Iowa at the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta.
And, as a family, we got to learn how to raise and show sheep; a new skill for all of us.
My husband and I give a lot of credit to those 4-H experiences when we look at what a confident, interesting young man we have.
I remember back when 4-H was only for "country kids." While it wasn't official, it was pretty much known that if you lived in the country, you belonged to 4-H. In town? Well, there may have been a couple of "girl clubs" that learned about sewing, or cooking, or creative arts.
Well, 4-H is for EVERYONE. Here in Clay County, Bonnie Dalager and her staff at the Clay County Extension office understand that. Anissa Jepsen, the County Youth Coordinator, and Jo Engel, County Program Coordinator, have taken 4-H in directions I couldn't have imagined 15 years ago, when I worked there.
We have Gear Tech camps, which focus on robotics and GPS; STEM programs, which show youth the huge array of opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math; and even filmmaking workshops. Area businesses, like Spencer Municipal Utilities, in the case of the filmmaking workshop, team up to bring their expertise to the programs.
You can still show your livestock, sew your nightshirts, and give presentations. But you can do so much more through 4-H.
We hear a lot about the bad things that happen to youth, and the bad things that youth sometimes do. That's why it's so important to have positive youth development programs like 4-H. This program supports youth, helps them explore their interests, and gives them a great outlet to have fun and meet new friends.
Here in Clay County, this Wednesday, Oct 10, 4-H'ers and those who support 4-H will be wearing green to honor the program and to raise awareness of National 4-H Week.
Help to paint the county green by joining in.
I know I will.