Local 4-H membership up | SteamboatToday.com

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Local 4-H membership up

With 4-H Achievement Day right around the corner, organizers and officers of the local organization say they have much to be proud of.

“We did accomplish a lot this year,” 4-H Extension Agent Jay Whaley said.

Possibly one of the best achievements for the year is the increase in numbers, which was a goal for the year’s council officers, council President Megan Baker said.

Baker, who’s a senior at Soroco High School, came into the president’s position last November with a goal to raise membership numbers. A year later there are 303 members, which is a 17-percent increase in membership.

To achieve the increase, Baker and the group’s officers went into elementary schools in Routt County to introduce children to 4-H.

“To let people know something about 4-H and what it offers to kids,” Baker said.

What it offers is more than 100 projects or activities in which a child can participate. From raising livestock and making cloths to shooting sports, fishing projects, model building and cooking.

“The kids choose which project they want to learn about. That’s what makes 4-H unique,” Whaley said.

With the diversification of the projects, there’s something that anyone can find interesting, he added.

“Anything you want to do, you can do it in 4-H,” Whaley said.

And if there is an activity that isn’t covered by 4-H, Whaley said he will find a way to incorporate it into the organization.

That approach at getting young people involved with the organization has changed the kind of children and adults who are involved with the program, Whaley said.

Though it still is a symbol of agriculture in the community, Whaley estimated that half of the children in 4-H live in town and a small percentage of the membership actually live on ranches.

“Their parents are miners, work at the schools, on the ski hill or businesses in town,” Whaley said.

However, the most popular programs in 4-H are still ones having to do with agriculture, including the horse, swine, sheep and beef programs.

Another popular 4-H opportunity that has been taken advantage of more this year is traveling.

“A lot more people have gone on national, state and county trips this year,” Baker said.

This year Routt County 4-H members have gone to Atlanta for the National 4-H Congress, Nashville, Tenn. for a seminars on cooperative education, Washington, D.C., for a Citizenship Washington Focus program, and to Spokane, Wash. for an exchange program with other 4-H members.

Usually, the only trip that a 4-H member goes on is to Washington, D.C., Whaley said.

He explained that members this year showed the initiative to fill out the application and go through the process to go on the trips more than ever before.

For some children, the trips have a significant impact on their lives, he said.

“Some of the kids have never even been on an airplane or maybe never been out of Routt County,” Whaley said.

Because of her work with the organization, Baker received the Outstanding Youth Leader award.

The Good Times 4-H Club received the Colgate Community Service Award, which is a national honor.

Baker, who will have to give up her position as president at Achievement Night on Nov. 17, said overall it was a great year.

But she said she isn’t looking forward to stepping down from the helm, giving up the spot to the vice president of the council, Dolina Babcock.