By Frank J. Buchman
More than 6 million young people across the country will celebrate National 4-H Week during the first full week of October.
“This year, October 3-9, these 4-H members and leaders are showcasing the great things that 4-H offers young people. It highlights incredible 4-H youth who work each day to make a positive impact on the community,” said Shandi Andres.
As the Flint Hills Extension District Family and Consumer Science agent, Andres works closely with Morris County’s 4-H program.
Based in Council Grove’s courthouse, Andres said, “The 4-H program is a nationwide opportunity for youth, ages seven to 18. The young people develop leadership, citizenship and life skills, while participating in hands-on learning.”
The “Learn By Doing” philosophy encourages 4-H members to plan and organize monthly meetings, community service projects, and other club activities, Andres explained. There are 35 projects, each providing the participant a chance to explore a new topic, while developing new skills. A number of divisions are within many of the projects.
“Morris County 4-H club members are enrolled in 28 different projects,” Andres noted. “Many of the projects have knowledgeable adults willing to assist the youth, while other projects are done independently.”
It is believed that the first official “Club Week” was proclaimed by Minnesota Governor Christianson in 1926. That was when he promoted the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs in that state. National 4-H Week began as an outgrowth of World War II.
Following Pearl Harbor, it was decided to postpone the National 4-H Camp in Washington, D.C., until the cessation of hostilities. W. H. Palmer, Ohio 4-H Leader, soon after announced plans for a State 4-H Mobilization Week.
It was a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense. This idea met with favorable response by state leaders throughout the country.
As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed in 1942, 1943 and 1944. The following year and each year since it has been observed as National 4-H Week.
According to Andres, there are 110 Morris County youth enrolled in 4-H as members of five clubs in the county. Clubs include Burdick Hustlers, Dwight Sunflowers, Flint Hills, Neosho Valley and Willing Workers.
The 4-H Cloverbuds program, a predecessor to 4-H membership, although not a requirement is for five-and six-year-olds. “There are 10 youngsters enrolled in Morris County’s Cloverbuds which Steffany Spear and Aleece Priest serving as leaders,” Andres said.
“Currently the largest club is Dwight Sunflowers with 34 members,” Andres said. Other club enrollments include Neosho Valley, 25; Flint Hills, 23; Willing Workers, 17; and Burdick Hustlers, 12.
Project areas today range from livestock, to foods and nutrition, to shooting sports and space technology.
“Largest 4-H project enrollment in Morris County is in foods and nutrition with 52 members,” Andres reported. The second largest enrollment is in photography which has 48 project members. Shooting sports project has 41 enrollees while the meat goat project has 37 participants.
“During National 4-H Week, we salute Morris County 4-H members,” said Larry Johnson, president of the Morris County 4-H Foundation. “They become well-rounded citizens as a direct result of their 4-H work. “Adults Helping Youth to Make the Best Better” is the service group’s motto.
“All county 4-H members completing their record books have their annual dues paid for by the foundation,” Johnson said. First year members of 4-H in Morris County also have the initial membership cost covered by the support group.
The Morris County 4-H Foundation also assists with other specialty camps, and judging schools. The group awards college scholarships, gives incentive participation awards and contributes to the annual 4-H Achievement Banquet.
“We thank the community for investing your talent, time and resources to make the county 4-H program a success. We encourage youth to join 4-H for the family experience to benefit communities and the whole county,” said Johnson.
Information about the Morris County 4-H program and supporting its activities is available from Andres at 620-767-5136.
There are 110 youth in Morris County’s five 4-H clubs with many of them gathering for this photo during the Morris County Fair. (Photo from Shandi Andres, Flint Hills Extension District Family and Consumer Science agent.)