Krista Shaffer, of Maybell, pats her horse, Nakita, after a run around the arena at Shaffer's grandmother's house in Sunbeam last year. Shaffer said her mother pushed her to join 4-H, and she's glad she did.

file photo

Krista Shaffer, of Maybell, pats her horse, Nakita, after a run around the arena at Shaffer's grandmother's house in Sunbeam last year. Shaffer said her mother pushed her to join 4-H, and she's glad she did.

Time to enroll in 4-H

Program helps youths build leadership skills through projects

— To Make the Best Better.

It's the motto for the century-old 4-H program, an education and youth development program for boys and girls that's available in every U.S. state and some other countries, too.

At this time of year, 4-H members are choosing and signing up for projects. Their goal is to complete projects by the end of the year, learning practical skills about specific project areas.

With the help of leaders, the members prepare exhibits for the county fair in order to show what they have accomplished during their project work. That includes records, too.

But 4-H is more than completing projects. 4-H is youth development. Members belong to community and/or project clubs where they hold offices, plan and carry out community projects, learn to be leaders and work as a team. They learn to be good citizens, how to make decisions and think critically and how to speak in front of groups.

4-H members attend conferences and retreats. They exhibit at the state fair and out-of-county livestock shows. That's where they meet young people from other places and cultures.

The 4-H program is family-oriented. Parents volunteer their time as leaders and otherwise support their children with their projects and community service. They attend 4-H events with their children.

4-H is open to children everywhere. It doesn't matter if they live in a city, small town, ranch or farm. The 4-H program is open to all who wish to participate without regard to race, creed, gender, handicaps or economic or ethnic backgrounds.

Recommended enrollment dates are through Jan. 31. Alisa Comstock, Youth/4-H Development Agent, says that while enrollments are accepted year-round, enrollment for 2008 is need by Jan. 31 to ensure leader availability.

To be eligible for completion of a 2008 project, 4-H enrollment must be received by June 1.

Traditional 4-H ages (as of Jan. 1) are 8 to 18 years old. However, children 5 to 7 years old may sign up for Cloverbuds. Enrollment fees are $20 per member for traditional members. This covers the cost of the 4-H manuals and books. The enrollment fee for a Cloverbud member is $10.

Cloverbuds meet once a week at the Moffat County Colorado State University Extension Office, 221 W. Victory Way, with leader Betty Ann Duzik. They get a sampling of what traditional 4-Hers do by finishing mini projects, such as leathercraft, ceramics and designing shirts. They give demonstrations/presentations and go on field trips.

During 4-H Completion Day, Cloverbuds exhibit little projects and then sit down as a group with Comstock for a mini interview about what they did during the year.

Traditional 4-H members sign up for a wide variety of projects, many with several levels. For example, in Veterinary Science, project levels include: "From Airedales to Zebras" (level 1), "All Systems Go" (Level 2) and "On the Cutting Edge" (Level 3). Likewise, in Model Rocketry, members begin with an "Introduction" project, then complete "Unit 1 - Non-balsa Fin," "Basic," "Intermediate," "Advanced" and "Designer."

Members sign up for livestock projects by ages. Juniors are ages 8 to 10, Intermediates are ages 11 to 13 and Seniors are ages 14 to 18.

Comstock invites young people to stop by the Moffat County CSU Extension Office and check out the list of state and county projects.

Comstock said they're also looking for 4-H leaders in several project areas.

"If you're interested in getting involved in 4-H by being a 4-H leader, come by the Extension Office and fill out the paperwork," she said.

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