Sarah Kern on 4-H

4-H has been a lifelong passion for me. I spent 12 years as a member myself, and now we are coming full circle because my kids are members of the same club I was in as a child.  

4-H empowers kids to develop a variety of skills, all with a focus on leadership, through a wide range of project areas. The focus is on participation in hands-on projects in many different areas – ranging from health, science, performance arts, agriculture, community service, and civics. 4-H is a local organization with clubs in many communities across the country. Members can be from suburbs, rural farm communities, and downtown cities. Volunteers and 4-H professionals provide support to youth. There are 6 million 4-Hers across the country. Clubs are run by youth leadership. 

The highlight of most 4-Her’s year is the county fair. As the school year comes to an end and summer gets under way, the prep for the county fair really gets into the full swing! 4-H will always be one of my favorite organizations because kids can pick any project area they find interesting. My kids, Nora, 10, and Theo, 7, poured over the premium book to find the project areas they wanted to tackle. There were over 80 pages of details and projects to pick from! A listing of desired projects is due to be turned in by July 1.  So we got to work. The kids think about projects they have done at school that could be jazzed up and given a second life for 4-H, activities they are interested in that would be applicable, and also any new skills they have conquered that they want to showcase.  

After some careful thought, we developed a list of activities for each of them. Since Theo has finished 1st grade, he is eligible only as a Cloverbud.  Being a Cloverbud is the starting point for 4-Hers. They can do the same projects as older 4-Hers but in an age appropriate, non-competitive way designed to build confidence and get them excited about 4-H. On his list was showing sheep, poultry, Food Revue, Fashion Revue, and three general Cloverbud projects. Nora’s list included sheep, poultry, Food Revue, Fashion Revue, fine arts, sewing, performing arts, and fruit.  

Since training animals for the fair takes the longest, this was the first challenge tackled. We got the sheep from a friend of our family and brought them home. The kids got to work on making friends and it wasn’t long before they had them on halters and could walk them around the farm. There were certainly days spent tugging and pulling and getting drug around, but they are making fast friends.  

Theo plans on completing some Perler bead creations for one of his Cloverbud projects so he has been working diligently on making some new designs. Nora is making a makeup bag for her sewing project so she cut out the pattern and has sewn the shell together – next up is the zipper.  

Our next challenge is to nail down the recipes they will be making for Food Revue and also select an outfit to wear for Fashion Revue. The whole process is much less stressful if work is started early in the summer so we are hoping to mark a bunch of boxes as done before summer really gets underway. Both kids have more work to do on their general projects as well so we will be adding some of these little tasks to their chore lists each week to make sure everything is done by the time the fair rolls around.

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