Right now is the ideal time to sign up for 4-H, says Colorado State University Moffat County Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent Elisa Shackelton.
Youths technically can get involved at any point during the year, but Shackelton encourages everyone interested to sign up by Jan. 31. Although the Moffat County Fair isn't until early August, many projects will get going by the beginning of February.
"The main thing that 4-H does ... the kids will end up with a finished project at the end of this year," she said.
The most-popular projects are livestock, but Shackelton said many other opportunities, including baking, sewing, quilting, dog obedience and photography, are available.
Participants may sign up for as many projects as they wish, though she recommends a maximum of three, because each requires a good deal of work.
Community clubs form based on geographic area and include officers and decision-making procedures.
Project clubs are led by adult volunteers who teach 4-H members what they know about a particular project's subject area.
"4-H is almost an extended family," Shackelton said. "We're also looking for adult leaders who have a passion and want to share it."
Typically, adults assist youths with their projects throughout the year. But former 4-H Director Nate Balstad, who resigned in October, started a program so busy families could complete a project in a week's time.
Members could dedicate four hours a day for five days to their projects and complete them by the end of the week.
"We're trying to be creative and make everyone's 4-H experience great," Shackelton said.
The membership fee is $15 a year. Additional fees associated with projects are the members' responsibility.
Participation in the organization rose 25 percent when Balstad started 3 1/2 years ago and has stayed steady since then. Enrollment is typically between 250 and 300.
Shackelton said she has plans to replace Balstad and is reviewing applications. She hopes to interview applicants in early March and fill the position by early April.
Shackelton said these first few months will be difficult without a 4-H director to recruit and visit new leaders, but she does not think parents and youths will notice much difference, as they often see administrative supervisor Jackie Goodnow with 4-H questions.
Shackelton wants to get project clubs to work more like community clubs in structure and organization.
"Maybe with a new 4-H director we can look at that," she said.
For more information about becoming a member or adult volunteer for 4-H, call the extension office at 824-9180 or stop by the office, 539 Barclay St.