During the past year, 4-H’ers have collected pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House, wrote letters to the troops, made valentines for nursing home residents, collected recyclables at the annual 4-H Recycle Day, and donated to 4-H Operation Military Kids Hero Pack drive.
Walker County 4-H also needs help from the community. It needs support through funding, volunteers and guidance in project areas.
“Walker County 4-H programs offer so much to the youths here,” said Casey Hobbs, extension service agent with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences or Family and Consumer Sciences. “There is a project in 4-H that interests almost everyone. Participants find what’s for them through learning and judging events, fun activities, community volunteering or statewide competitions.”
More than 950 active 4-H members from first through 12th grade are enrolled in Walker County.
Local 4-H’ers are proud to say they are Georgia 4-H.
· 4-H’er Dusty Horne said, “I like 4-H because it is an awesome experience and offers something for everyone. You can gain valuable skills from the experiences you have in the program such as public speaking, making new friends, or just being comfortable in a crowd. 4-H is a valuable program that people should join.”
· Another 4-H’er Logan Edwards of Gordon Lee High School said, “4-H is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It’s so much fun, and I’ve made so many new friends. I’ve been in 4-H ever since I was in first grade and plan to stay in for as long as possible.”
· 4-H’er Wayne Manning said, “We do many things for the community and are involved in various team building activities.”
· LaFayette High School 4-H’er Chase Horne said, “Join 4-H and it will be the biggest life change you will ever make!”
Extension 4-H agents meet with 4-H members during school, after school and in community-based clubs. In 2010, more than 155,000 youths participated in Georgia 4-H programs.
Besides projects and competitions, members can go to special camps and events all over the state and nation. Special University of Georgia football days, camps at the beach, in the mountains, in the city and at Rock Eagle and even trips to Washington, D.C., offer exciting ways to learn while having fun.
Jack Lowery, Walker County 4-H alumni, knows about the benefits of 4-H and summer camp.
He said, “This may come as a surprise to people who know me now, but there was a time when I was a quiet, more reserved person. However, that time ended around the fifth grade. As soon as I could start 4-H, I did any and every project that I could. From target sports to public speaking, I found a multitude of ways to channel my interest. Somewhere between seventh and eighth grade I fell in love with the program. I had definitely come out of my shell by meeting new people and sharing not just one, but many common interests. Through activities such as Project SAFE, district project achievement, being a teen leader at 4-H summer camp, and so much more, I have been able to grow as a person.
“Right after I graduated from LaFayette High School in 2008, I started my first summer as a camp counselor at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. When I moved to Rock Eagle, I knew that I would have a great summer, but I had no idea the impact I would have on those children. I found children from all walks of life. I feel like that summer I learned more from those kids than I was able to teach them. It was definitely the crowning achievement of my 4-H career thus far.
“4-H has definitely made me into the person I am today. I have had opportunities to travel all over the country, meet all types of people, and do some amazing things. But more importantly than that, I have learned what I will have to do to become the type of person I can be proud of, and I feel that now I can do just that thanks to the things I learned in Georgia 4-H.”
Lowery was chosen as camp leadership at Rock Eagle 4-H Center this past summer and served as shawnee mico, formerly known as chief.
In Walker County, 4-H activities this year included livestock projects such as beef heifers, chickens, market hogs and lambs. 4-H’ers also competed in agricultural projects like the giant watermelon- and pumpkin-growing contests and the wildlife food plot contest.
4-H’ers have also attended area and state competition in judging events, such as poultry and consumer judging. Walker County has also included leadership activities such as Leadership Day at the Capitol and Leadership in Action projects.
4-H’ers have also received many awards, including its new Master 4-H’er (state winner), Tyler Edgeman, who received the Master 4-H’er status for winning the state 4-H Family and Consumer Science Dean’s Award this summer.
But the 4-H’ers aren’t the only ones having fun. Adult volunteers work with 4-H’ers helping them prepare for competitions, sharing their knowledge with them and, most importantly, spending time with them.
“I don’t know what we’d do without our volunteers,” Hobbs said. “They work with our 4-H’ers on so many projects and teams.”
A few of the volunteer-led activities are summer camp, Project SAFE, the BB gun team, community service and leadership projects and many others.
Walker County 4-H staff members include Hobbs, 4-H agent, and Jessica Watkins, 4-H program assistant who attend to the planning and implementation of all 4-H programming in Walker County.
Because Walker County 4-H sees over 950 children each year, many programs are led by certified volunteer leaders.
“If we had the help of other volunteers in the community, we would be able to offer more programs. Many programs only last a month and some last a day, from coaching dairy or horse quiz bowl, to livestock and wildlife judging, to offering a hiking club, summer day camps and more — there is a spot for anyone willing to volunteer their time to the 4-H organization,” said Hobbs.
Many volunteers are 4-H alumni, so they recognize the benefits of 4-H.
4-H alumni and current 4-H Volunteer Leader Ales Campbell said, “4-H Club at school, county council, CPA, DPA, 4-H events and camps positively impacted my life during elementary through high school. The 4-H public speaking project, leadership opportunities and social interactions prepared me to confidently approach event planning and group settings now. I’m grateful to be a part of Walker County 4-H as an adult. Now, I understand why my mother dedicated herself as a volunteer and 4-H program assistant for many years. 4-H is an A-plus organization for youth and families.”
For more information, call the Walker County Cooperative Extension Office at 706-638-2548, come by the office at 102 East Napier Street LaFayette or visit www.ugaextension.com/walker/4H. You can also find them on Facebook groups under “Walker County 4-H.”
Walker County 4-H is a partner with United Way for Walker, Dade and Catoosa counties.