Youth 4-H program expanding to Steamboat |

Youth 4-H program expanding to Steamboat

Town Kids designed for children who don’t live on ranches

Jack Weinstein

— After two successful years in Hayden, the 4-H Town Kids program is coming to Steamboat Springs.

Routt County 4-H Extension Agent Jay Whaley is hosting an informational meeting about the program, which will partner with Yampatika, at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Routt County Extension Office.

Whaley said the program was designed to allow children who live in town and can't keep livestock the opportunity to raise livestock and participate in the Routt County Fair.

"We've had such good success with it in Hayden," he said. "We had nine or 10 kids participate there. I wanted to extend it here."

In addition to attracting Steamboat kids who might be interested in participating in 4-H, Whaley said he's trying to find some adult volunteers for the program.

The partnership with Yamp­atika will allow those participating in the Town Kids program to keep and care for sheep and goats at the city of Steamboat Springs-owned Legacy Ranch on U.S. Highway 40 near Colorado Highway 131, Whaley said.

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"Our goal was to make sure we had working agriculture on the property," Yampatika Executive Director Sonja Macys said. "We were really interested in having small-scale agriculture that was accessible to kids. Someone suggested 4-H."

Yampatika is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental stewardship through adult and youth education programs.

Whaley said there is a $32 annual 4-H membership fee in addition to three requirements for the participants, which include giving back through community service, teaching others through demonstrations and being enrolled in a project.

"The good thing about this is it combines all three things in one location," he said.

Whaley said 4-H participants would be required to do community service work at the Legacy Ranch, sort of as payment for keeping their animals there. He said the participants would teach other children at Yampatika's summer camps. And they would be caring for their animals.

Macys said Yampatika is particularly excited for the 4-H participants' demonstrations during its summer camps for children ages 5 to 14.

To make the Town Kids program available to children who may not be able to afford it, Macys said she has applied for a grant to provide micro loans to participants. Those loans would help them pay for the upfront costs of the program.

She said that not only would it provide 4-H participants with money to buy their animals and supplies, but the low-interest loan would teach them how to track it monthly before repaying the loan after selling their animals at the fair.

"In addition to the importance of providing for kids who can't afford to participate, it teaches an important life lesson," Macys said.

Whaley said raising livestock requires a seven-day-a-week co­­­mmitment from participants. He said it begins in late April, when the animals are purchased by youths, and continues through the sale of the animals in the third week of August during the fair.

For more information, call Whaley at 879-0825.

If you go

What: 4-H Town Kids program meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Routt County Extension Office in the Routt County Courthouse Annex on Sixth Street

Call: Routt County 4-H Extension Agent Jay Whaley at 879-0825 for more information

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