By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
In 1926 the first official “Club Week” took place to promote the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs in Minnesota. Later in 1945, Club Week officially became National 4-H Week, which is now celebrated each year around the country.
This year, National 4-H Week, themed #4Grown, runs from October 2 – 8.
Oklahoma 4-H’ers will participate in the weeklong event through a variety of local, county and statewide celebrations to recognize outstanding 4-H alumni. The event also serves to highlight the impact 4-H has on the community and to promote the world’s largest youth organization.
Kristin Knight, marketing coordinator with the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University, said one of the things she is looking forward to is highlighting some outstanding 4-H alumni on social media.
“I’d love to hear from former club members and have them send in a quote or a short paragraph about their past 4-H experiences, the valuable skills they learned and how being a club member helped them get to where they are today,” Knight said.
“We want to share this on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all throughout the month. This is a big celebration for 4-H and we want to let everyone know what a positive impact 4-H has on today’s youth.”
Knight went on to say, “When 4-H began more than a century ago, its traditions and history were steeped in agriculture. While most all of these values still hold true, and we continue our educational efforts with a ‘learn by doing’ approach, it’s important to remember the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program is ever-changing so that programming can continue to meet the needs and interests of our members.
“The foundation of 4-H remains strong in agriculture and the core beliefs of the program remain the same. However, as technology advances, our project areas change, too,” she added. “While many youth remain involved in livestock and other agricultural projects, others excel in science and technology, photography, healthy living and more.”
One such former club member and #4HGrown alumna is Jill (Sharp) Simmons from Woodward County. During her 4-H career, Jill served as a State 4-H Ambassador, was inducted into the Woodward County Hall of Fame as both a junior and senior member, and was a top three state record book finalist and Key Club winner.
Today, Jill remains involved with the 4-H organization. She is an active 4-H volunteer in her home county, serves as a judge for numerous county contests, and devotes her time each month to teach a sewing workshop to youth.
Another former club member is Cathleen Taylor who enrolled in 4-H at the age of 12. She immediately became involved in several project areas ranging from public speaking to fabrics and fashions. Taylor says one of the best experiences for her as a 4-H’er was starting a “girls only club” at a local church. Each month, Cathleen taught the 2nd-6th grade girls lessons on self-esteem, hygiene and other life skills. She says 4-H taught her to work hard, and exposed her to the opportunities at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Now as the Pottawatomie County 4-H educator, Cathleen guides today’s youth to become #4HGrown.
During National 4-H Week efforts are focused on recruiting new members and leaders and honoring the achievements of current members and volunteers.
“Celebrating this exciting month, Oklahoma County will be hosting several 4-H events,” said Kacie Jasper, Oklahoma County 4-H Youth Development Educator.
The Tractor Supply Company Fall Paper Clover fundraising campaign will run from October 5-16. Tractor Supply stores will be taking donations for 4-H to help raise funds for 4-H camp and other leadership experiences.
This year’s 4-H National Youth Science experiment, called Drone Discovery, will take place on October 5. A hands-on engineering design challenge, the project will demonstrate drone flight dynamics, aircraft types, safety and regulations, and remote sensing and flight control.
If interested in this S.T.E.M. school enrichment program, or for a list of all National 4-H Week activities in your area, contact the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Center, Oklahoma County 4-H at 405-713-1125 or visit their website.