‘Kicking Up the Dust’ at 4-H District Retreat

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Diane Prather

This is what 16-year-old Derek Maiolo, of Craig, had to say about the 19th annual 4-H District Retreat.

“It was an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends and to understand how they are successful, not only in 4-H but also in their communities,” he said.

The retreat was March 2 through 4 at the Marriott Residence Inn in Glenwood Springs.

Derek was one of eight Moffat County 4-H members who attended the retreat.

Other members from Craig were: Bailey and Makenna Baker, Sarye and Seth Morgan, Will Pilgrim, Kaylee Springer, and Payton Voloshin. Each year, 4-H members from Northwest Colorado Districts 11 and 12 participate in the district retreat. Counties in District 11 include Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, and Eagle; those from District 12 include Grand, Jackson, and Routt.

The chaperone from Moffat County was 4-H leader Michelle Pilgrim.

The theme for this year’s retreat was “Kicking Up the Dust.” Each county selected a country singer and made decorations that represent the singer. The decorations were used during retreat events.

So on the evening of March 2, after registration, 4-H members and their chaperones got right to work with organizational meetings, district officer candidate speeches, and dinner. After dinner, attendees were treated to a keynote speech by Kelly Barnes.

Will Pilgrim said Barnes lives on a ranch in Oklahoma. He was a 4-H member and an FFA member, even holding the office of Oklahoma State FFA President.

Will said Barnes told his audience, “Once you’re a 4-Her, you’re always a 4-Her.”

“Helping others get from where they are to where they want to be” is a message Barnes takes to audiences everywhere.

Will said Barnes was an “awesome speaker.”

“Everybody loved him,” Will said.

Following breakfast the next morning, 4-H members were ready for a full day of activity. First of all, the younger 4-H members were divided into groups that rotated from one workshop to another. The hour-long workshops were held in the morning and early afternoon, each with a fascinating topic.

For example, during a workshop titled “That’s Totally Gross,” Dr. Barb Shaw taught participants to use chemicals in making “slime” and “snot.” Then 4-H members made objects from duct tape and decorated district retreat T-shirts in another.

The object of “Taste of 4-H” was to allow members to investigate examples of 4-H projects such as leathercraft, sewing, quilting, robotics, and scrapbooking. Kelly Barnes helped participants with “Respectful Leadership.”

While younger 4-H members participated in the workshops, senior members tackled the problem of bullying in our society. This was an all-day seminar in which six groups of about seven members each were challenged to create a poster and T-shirt design with a message about how to deal with some aspect of bullying.

Maiolo explained the design produced in the group in which he participated. (Also in this group were Moffat County members Will Pilgrim, Seth Morgan, and Bailey Baker.) He said their approach was to replace mean words with more positive conversation.

The resulting drawing showed two people talking to each other and this message: “Spread a kind word and you will be amazed what it will do.”

But that wasn’t all.

Each group also produced a video that illustrated a specific scenario of bullying and an approach that could fix the problem. The videos were presented to retreat attendees later that night.

After dinner on March 3, district officer elections were held.

Candidates had presented 3- to 4-minute speeches the night before. Derek was elected vice-president of District 11. He now becomes part of the state officer team.

The activities of March 3 ended with a dance. In keeping with the retreat theme, district presidents kicked off the dance by singing “Our Song.” The presidents took the parts of Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Toby Keith. (Moffat County’s 2011 District President Will Pilgrim sang as Toby Keith.)

On March 4, after breakfast and a closing program, some very tired 4-H members packed up and headed home.

Chaperone Michelle Pilgrim summed up the weekend.

“We took eight kids,” she said. “I think it’s a real fun location. The kids really enjoyed the speaker. I think everybody had a good time.”

Congratulations to Derek Maiolo for being elected District 11 vice-president.

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