Moffat County 4-H Club reaches beyond farms and ranches | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County 4-H Club reaches beyond farms and ranches

Janelle O'Dea

Samantha Pearce with her horse, Paint. Samantha has had Paint since birth and said having the horse has taught her how to raise and care for a horse. Through 4-H Club, Samantha learned about horsemanship.

— Out of the six million kids involved in the 4-H Club programs across the country, Moffat County is proudly home to about 250 of them.

The "4-H" in 4-H Club represents four core principles the organization promotes: head, managing and thinking; heart, relating and caring; hands, giving and working and health, being and living.

Activities available in Moffat County's 4-H Club are extensive and can suit any student's interest said Colorado State University Moffat County extension director JD Sexton.

"That's probably one of the big misconceptions; that you have to have an animal to be in 4-H," Sexton said. "But there's a lot of opportunities for kids."

Anyone from ages 8 to 18 can participate in 4-H Club events. 4-H is a national organization supported by land grant universities' extension offices. The county does set aside money for the CSU extension office, Sexton said, but the 4-H Club survives primarily on donors in the area who believe in the program and what it does for Moffat County youth.

Getting involved with 4-H Club can mean participating in activities other than livestock showing or horsemanship. Other options include baking and canning, veterinary science activities, bicycle events, geospatial exploration, small engine work and shooting sports, to name a few. Many 4-H'ers have participated in robotics activities in recent years, as well, Sexton said.

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One of the students involved in Moffat County 4-H Club will use skills from 4-H Club to help her decide what she'll major in when she goes to college in a couple of years. Samantha Pearce has done multiple activities in the past and settled on clothing construction and horse showing.

Those two are the activities she feels she's best at, Pearce said. She's considering going into fashion marketing when she goes to college. But first, she'll spend six months training with Ben Longwell in New Zealand after graduating from high school. Longwell grew up riding horses and working cattle on the Western Slope and now holds horsemanship clinics in America and New Zealand to share his knowledge.

The apprenticeship will help Pearce figure out if she wants to do horsemanship work every day or just have it as a hobby on the side, she said.

In the past year, Pearce won several awards for sewing a wool dress out of materials born and raised in Moffat County. Pearce was involved in all stages of her creation, including the cleaning, dyeing, spinning and weaving of the wool.

Pearce, the 16-year-old vice president of 4-H Club's Colorado District 11, said she wanted to do something with agriculture but took the idea further than showing livestock.

"I wanted to do something that promotes ag, but not raise my own animal," Pearce said.

Making the dress and participating in horsemanship with her 8-year-old horse Paint has taught Pearce many skills, and Sexton said the whole point of 4-H Club activities is to foster youth development.

From her involvement with 4-H Club, Pearce gained skills such as how to prepare for and speak in interviews, public speaking and a myriad of leadership skills.

4-H Clubs across the nation create a give-and-take relationship between teens and their communities. The Moffat County 4-H Club is no different.

"We want to give them the ability to give back to the community by doing some kind of community service or helping the community out because the community supports the program," Sexton said.

Contact Janelle O’Dea at 970-875-1795 or jodea@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @jayohday.

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