Holmes Junior Fair board members tour area elementary schools to promote 4-H

Holmes Junior Fair board members tour area elementary schools to promote 4-H

Image Credit: Dave Mast

When it comes to enjoying the experience of being part of a club in Holmes County 4-H, you can’t start too soon. OK, maybe that’s not entirely true because the earliest a child can join is in third grade, but with all the benefits involved with 4-H, the sooner a child dives in, the better, according to Janessa Hill, Holmes County Ohio State University Extension educator who spearheads the Holmes County 4-H program.

In the hopes of generating some excitement about 4-H, several Holmes County Junior Fair board members joined Hill, and the group went on a round-up of a different type recently.

During the week of March 14-18, the group visited several schools in the West Holmes School District and went wrangling for future 4-Hers. On Friday, March 11, the group was at Millersburg Elementary, where they met with all the third-grade students to share about the many joys, challenges and character-building activities 4-H presents.

According to Hill, the hope was to introduce 4-H to the youngsters and to entice them to check out the possibilities of joining one of the county’s many 4-H clubs. The reason they met with third-graders is that is the first year youth are eligible to join 4-H.

Hill said she went with different junior fair board members to Lakeville, Killbuck and Millersburg on their grand tour around the western side of the county. Another volunteer took packets of information to Holmesville Elementary.

“These visits are very important and really cool because I love the opportunity to bring our older youth in so they can share their experiences and talk about their stories and what they love about 4-H,” Hill said. “I think kids can often connect with older teens who have experienced everything. Plus, it gives our older members a chance to work on their speaking skills. Hearing their stories can make a big impact.”

Joining Hill were Holmes County Junior Fair board members Ally Ogi, Maren Drzazga, Alysa Pringle and Garrett Fowler, who also were joined by Hill’s Australian Shepherd puppy, JoJo, who proved to be a huge hit with the kids.

“This is the time when these younger kids can step into a role with 4-H, so we want to encourage them to join a 4-H club and experience the fun,” said Ogi, who said she remembered when she was in third grade and someone came in to speak about 4-H.

Pringle said she joined when she was a third-grader, and as she worked her way through 4-H, she has learned many valuable life lessons that she wants these younger kids to experience.

“It’s a good chance to develop leadership skills, and that is one reason all four of us are involved with the junior fair,” Pringle said. “We wanted to get involved with our community and give back as we get older and help the kids coming into 4-H in the future gain the same valuable lessons we have learned.”

The four junior fair board members took turns explaining the possibilities of 4-H including raising an animal, life-skills projects and how joining a 4-H club opens the possibilities of building new friendships.

They began by asking the students how much they knew about Holmes County 4-H. That included introducing many of them to what 4-H stands for: Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

They talked about 4-H Camp in June, a week at Camp Ohio that is loaded with activities, before exploring all the different animals that kids can show at the Holmes County Junior Fair livestock show.

They then gave students a chance to ask questions, many of which revolved around the various types of life-skills projects that were available. From working with dogs to building rockets, sewing, cooking, sports and more, kids found out that if they have an interest, there is a life-skills project available.

“We have hundreds of booklets with specific life-skills projects, but there are self-made projects that allow kids to create their own projects,” Hill said. “Kids can take as many life-skills projects as they want, and they will have a chance to explore a lot of new and fun projects.”

Not only are the projects fun and challenging, 4-H clubs also provide a sense of community pride and unity and help build self-esteem.

Ogi, the reigning Holmes County Junior Fair queen, said building relationships has helped her create many friendships she has had since first joining 4-H.

“4-H really does offer something for everyone, and it has been such a big part of all of our lives,” Ogi said. “We encourage every young person who might be interested to check it out.”

If a child is interested in learning more about 4-H, they can stop by the extension office across from the courthouse in Millersburg at 75 E. Clinton St., or interested parties can call 330-674-3015 to learn more about the Holmes County 4-H program.

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