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Published August 21, 2009, 12:00 AM

4-H is much more than the county fair

As you are reading this, the 2009 Douglas County Fair is in full swing and Douglas County 4-H is there in full force.

By: By Jodi Hintzen, 4-H coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press

As you are reading this, the 2009 Douglas County Fair is in full swing and Douglas County 4-H is there in full force.

More than 400 4-H members are exhibiting items in the 4-H Building, showing animals or have exhibited in events held prior to the fair, such as Demonstration Day and Food Review, Clothing and Textiles Day, dog show and the horse show.

When people think of 4-H the fair is generally one of the first activities that comes to mind, but in reality that is just one of the myriad of activities that 4-H members and their families can participate in.

4-H has expanded beyond the fair and come to encompass many facets of youth development for youth in grades kindergarten to one year past high school.

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. So how does 4-H accomplish this? Through a variety of programs and opportunities for all youth.

4-H in Douglas County has been present in afterschool programs for the past five years. 4-H Afterschool meets in the school on set days and provides a wide variety of educational activities from hands-on science, Lego robotics, sewing and more.

For young people, 4-H Afterschool provides opportunities to participate in fun, exciting programs while developing valuable skills with lifelong benefits. For parents and family members, 4-H Afterschool creates safe, healthy, enriching environments that enhance young people’s social, emotional, physical and academic success.

4-H also provides short-term activities or 4-H Adventures. 4-H Adventures are short-term programs specialized by specific subject matters such as performing arts, technology, animal science or nutrition and fitness.

4-H clubs are groups of the same youth who meet on a regular basis at least six times a year, provide community service and give the youth an opportunity to demonstrate a skill or share an experience in a group setting.

Most of these clubs take the form of the traditional community 4-H club that meets once a month in a set location, with families and members attending. The members live in the same area or community or have shared interests.

There are other opportunities for clubs to form as well. A site-based club is a club experience designed to reach youth where they live or already meet: public housing site, mobile home park, neighborhood community center, a home school group or other host location.

Afterschool clubs are offered during afterschool hours and typically meet weekly or monthly throughout the school year. There could also be project clubs based around and focused on a specific project area, such as an aerospace club or computer club.

All of these clubs provide opportunities for 4-H project work, exhibiting at the fair and developing life skills.

If you are interested in any of these 4-H opportunities, contact the Douglas County Extension Office at (320) 762-3890 to sign up or for more information. See you at the fair!

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