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A lifetime of achievements in 4-H -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

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COURTESY PHOTO The respect life essay winners of Holy Family Elementary display the rosaries they received as prizes from the Knights of Columbus essay contest. Winners were announced Nov. 4. From left are Lester Robben, Respect Life coordinator for Knights Council No. 6984; Jeffery Heimann, son of Bill and Theresa Heimann, Hays; Ann Wasinger, daughter of Robert and Rebecca Wasinger, Hays; Morgan Staab, daughter of Karl and Debbie Staab, Victoria, and Shirley Dinkel, teacher at Holy Family Elementary.

A lifetime of achievements in 4-H

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I attended the annual 4-H achievement banquet. It brought back memories of how our family was involved in 4-H.

Do you know what the four H's stand for on the name 4-H club? Well, it's not hogs, horses, honey and ham. Just take the first letter of the words head, heart, hands and health, then you'll know.

Jim was a 4-H'er in Ness County when he was a teenager. He showed swine and entered the best-dressed contest. Now, I wasn't interested in being a 4-H member even though my mom tried to convince me to join. My dad talked me into showing a beef steer at the Trego County Fair and Ellis Junior Free Fair. I had to lead my animal down the street in the Ellis parade. Boy was I scared.

When Jim and I moved to Ellis in 1960, I never once thought we would become an active 4-H family. I think it was 1963 when we became members of the Happy Hustler 4-H club north of Ellis. Late, we helped organize the Ellis Sunflowers 4-H club in Ellis. We became the club leaders, and our family was active until they reached age 19.

Recently, I ran across some interesting facts in the October issue of Successful Farmer magazine in the Family section by Cheryl Jevis.

"There are 6.5 million youth in 90,000 4-H clubs across the USA today. More than a century after its founding, 4-H has expanded beyond its farm roots into science, engineering, robotics and an array of other programs."

4-H is not a club for just farm kids. It is an opportunity for any youth 5 to 18 years of age. No matter where they live, what race they are or what financial status, they can become a 4-H member.

In 1933, the Good Hope and Buckeye Junior Farmers 4-H clubs were organized as the first two clubs in Ellis County.

This year, there were 228 4-H club members, six community clubs and two special-interest clubs in the county.

As years have passed, the number of project choices has increased. It's not just cooking and cows; there are approximately 35 project areas the youth can complete hands-on activities to learn life skills, or they can pick a self-determined project -- just use their imagination.

Personally, I have liked 4-H because it is a family affair. Families work together through projects and events. While many activities are for the member to learn to do, the parents, siblings and whole family can be involved. Little brothers and sisters can become tag-a-longs or cloverbuds. These are programs for 5- and 6-year-olds. Parents can volunteer in ways to help their youth get the most out of the program -- perhaps help lead a project, provide transportation and be supportive.

Club members learn to conduct meetings, parliamentary procedure to work with others, to serve on committees and how to give project talks and demonstrations. They work hard to reach goals for themselves and their club. There are awards to receive, records to keep. And then, they get to enter exhibits at the fair.

It is hard to tell about 4-H in a few words; I could write so much more. I haven't mentioned what our kids did: daughters learned to sew and made their wedding dresses; I learned to knit and crochet when my girls learned; they all showed animals; they attended camp at Rock Springs and went on exchange trips; the club booth qualified for the state fair.

More memories include working in the concession stand, judging contests, Stewarts cherry dessert, running home to do chores and rushing back to see the beef show.

If you would like to know more about 4-H, visit a club meeting, check the list of projects or call the Ellis County Extension office at (785) 628-9430. Or you can stop by the office at 601 Main and meet the Ellis County 4-H agent, Susan Schlichting.

I'm proud to say I have been part of 4-H. I encourage you to promote this youth program and consider volunteering your help.

Opal Flinn is a member

of the Generations Advisory Group.

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