Eye on Extension: Last Chance to Join 4-H for 2018

VALLEY — As spring approaches, so does our 4-H new member enrollment deadline! 4-H, the country’s largest youth development program, provides fun, educational opportunities for youth. Participants learn valuable life skills through community club meetings and engaging project work. New members have until March 31 to enroll if they’d like to participate in 4-H and in the San Luis Valley Fair this summer.

4-H is a great opportunity for young people to explore subject areas they are interested in. A lot of people think 4-H is just about animals and agriculture, but it’s much more. We have more than 45 projects for kids to participate in, from woodworking to sewing to cake decorating to archery. Youth participants can learn things as varied as how to train their dog, how to build a model rocket, or how to bake.

Some of our most popular projects in the Valley are related to animals. Youth can learn how to ride horses, or raise a variety of livestock. Kids interested in learning how to raise and show an animal can get started with a small animal like a rabbit or chicken. Families with more space or ambition can raise swine, sheep or goats.

4-H members have the option of showing off their project work at the San Luis Valley Fair, August 4-11. This fun event features livestock, horse, and dog shows, and a livestock sale for animal project members. Youth in non-animal projects bring finished projects to get judged and displayed. It’s a super fun celebration of lots of learning and hard work. I love seeing the diversity of projects on display, from intricate woodworking pieces, to beautifully decorated cakes, to delicate quilts.

In addition to project learning, 4-H members have the opportunity to attend local and national workshops, camps and conferences. Through all of these opportunities, youth improve their self-confidence, learn subject matter, and develop important skills like leadership, communication, and decision making. These skills help 4-Hers be successful in the classroom and the workplace.

The 4-H program is a volunteer-led organization. Adult volunteer leaders lead local clubs. At club meetings kids meet to work on projects, and practice public speaking by doing project-related demonstrations. Clubs also organize community service projects, and offer kids opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities. Youth officers help lead the meetings and plan club activities.

More than 15 clubs meet monthly in communities around the Valley. This allows youth to join a club that fits their interests, needs, and schedule. We’re working with locals currently to try to get a club up and running in Creede so that Mineral County youth will have an option closer to home.

The 4-H program is open to all youth ages 8 to 18. Currently more than 250 youth participate in 4-H in the San Luis Valley through 14 active community clubs. We also have an introductory 4-H program, called Cloverbuds, for kids ages 5 to 7.

4-H enrollment is $25 per year, and $5 per project. Enrollment fees cover the majority of project manuals and general administrative fees. Scholarships are available for families with limited resources. Enrollment takes place through the 4HOnline system at https://co.4honline.com.  

For more information on the 4-H youth development program, drop by the Extension office at 1899 E Hwy 160 in Monte Vista Monday to Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm, visit the San Luis Valley website at http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu, call 719-852-7381, or email [email protected]. We’d love to have your family join our program this year!

Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.