By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
It’s been quite a year for the seven different 4H Clubs of Madison County, and Becky Bennett acknowledged the support 4H receives from Kiwanis as well as other civic groups as she recounted some of the year’s highlights in a slideshow presentation and talked about some of the upcoming summer camps that will finish out this year’s 4H calendar. This 4H year ends August 31; the new 4H year begins September 1 and runs through August 31, 2013.
There was the Livestock Show, a horse show, a talent show, last summer’s camp at Cherry Lake, various other camps, sewing classes, painting classes, arts ‘n’ crafts, gardening, face-painting and lots of other fun activities and hands-on projects.
“I guess you could say our theme for this year was getting our hands dirty,” she said.
4H teaches skills in a learn-by-doing environment that primarily focuses on such things as healthy lifestyles, STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) activities, and citizenship/ leadership skills, the latter especially among the older 4H members.
Whether it’s basic sewing skills like sewing on a button that will help the children take care of themselves later in their daily lives, or learning the political processes of government or practicing public speaking skills or developing competence in livestock care and horsemanship or just plain having fun with friends who share their interests, 4H has something of interest for every age group.
For five-to-seven-year-olds, there is “Cloverbuds.” For eight-to-ten-year-olds, there’s the “Junior” division. For 11-to-13-year olds, it’s the “Intermediate” division, and for 14-to-18, the “Senior” division. In some areas, there is even a Collegiate 4H for those who go off to college, but want to continue their affiliation with the organization.
Because Madison is such a small county, local 4H groups don’t adhere quite as strictly to age grouping; however, Bennett told the audience, right now they are trying to build up interest among the Intermediates – the preteen and early teen age group where membership is sometimes a little low.
With summer arriving and school letting out soon, there are several 4H day camps and overnight camps for children ages eight to 18. Since summer of 2012 is also the time of the 2012 Summer Olympics, there will be a 4H Olympics Camp where 4H-ers can bring home the green, and Camp Cherry Lake will be playing up the Olympics and healthy lifestyles with its outdoor activities. STEM – related camps include Space Camp, concentrating on the science of flight and space engineering, and Camp Hard Hats explores the science and technology of the heavy machinery that keeps Madison County operating. There are also beginning and advanced sewing camps and a Camp Cloverbud for the little one ages five to seven.
For a complete schedule of this summer’s 4H camps, registration deadlines and costs, go to http://madison.ifas.ufl.edu/4h_camps.shtml or contact the Madison County Extension Office at (850) 973-4138.