4-H builds for the future

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The 4-H program has been a club that many youths from Colusa County have enjoyed over the years. While 4-H officials are not looking to reinvent the wheel, there are new changes coming to many of the different factions. 

New experiences for members come from new volunteers to bring in a variety of projects for the young members. 4-H offers not only animal projects but a variety of life skills. Earlier this year, a pair of sisters, ages 5 and 8, were able to survive winter conditions while lost for two days in Humbolt County, thanks in part to skills learned in 4-H. 

Leslie Pingrey, 4-H office manager, said that they are always looking for new project leaders. 

“There’s a need for all projects,” Pingrey said. “We’ve always had fabulous leaders, we just need more.”

In Maxwell, the 4-H meetings have already begun. Club leaders Chelsea Dirks and Jessica Gomez have implemented a theme of safety. Each month will feature a professional speaker to teach their members about different elements of being safe. For their September meeting, Veterinary Technician Johanna Pearson came to engage with the young members about being safe with animals. 

While there have not been new volunteers, titles have changed to better serve the club’s members. 

“Things are a little different,” Dirks said. “We’re really excited about new activities to get kids involved. I’m excited building on what 4-H has already had in Maxwell. Honing in with fresh eyes to build on what we already had.”

Dirks and Gomez will be keeping membership fees low by engaging their members in fundraisers, where people can buy Christmas wreaths in December or a dinner in January. They also have other ideas that they are implementing that incentivize active listening with candy and prizes as rewards.

Arbuckle’s 4-H club got a later start with open enrollment night on Monday. Sallie LaGrande met with parents and caregivers to give a comprehensive list of club projects for the year. New project leaders will be joining with new club leaders and other project leaders that have been volunteering for years to offer a wide array of projects. Swine has the largest enrollment so far. Photography is popular, along with holiday arts and crafts. Gardens, foods, and scrapbooking are all projects that members intend to participate in. 

The 4-H in Williams has been brought back from a nearly non-existant program. Last year, the memberships nearly tripled and the number of volunteer leaders have also grown. 

Club Leader Becky Smith said that they are getting a new start. Two years ago, there was only a sheep project, but now there is a host of projects from Leadership and Development and Primary (Clover Buds) to all sorts of animals: rabbit, goat, swine, fishing, and, of course, sheep will still be offered.

Terri Swiggum is the club leader for Colusa and she doesn’t have new changes to report but agrees with the sentiments of her fellow leaders about the need for volunteers. 

“You don’t have to be full time,” she said. “Just with two-to-three hours, we can give more to the kids.” ■