4-H’ers help their communities, communities help 4-H

WORTHINGTON -- So, that bag of dirty diapers someone tossed from their car window into a ditch south of Adrian -- a 4-H'er picked that up. Those empty pop bottles, bait containers and yards of tangled fishing line left along the shoreline at Lake...

WORTHINGTON -- So, that bag of dirty diapers someone tossed from their car window into a ditch south of Adrian -- a 4-H’er picked that up. Those empty pop bottles, bait containers and yards of tangled fishing line left along the shoreline at Lake Bella County Park? A 4-H’er cleaned those things up as well.

They call it Community Pride -- working with their hands, and giving from the heart (two of the H’s in 4-H) -- to make their communities better and to give back to others.

Four Nobles County 4-H clubs are sharing the stories of their Community Pride projects at the fair this week in Worthington, with displays from the Elk Tip Toppers, Okabena Bees and Grand Prairie Rockets filled with action photos, and a binder detailing the Indian Lake Progressives efforts in raising more than $8,500 to help fund new playground equipment for Brewster City Park.

The Elk Tip Toppers “pledged their hands” to help the hungry by lugging boxes of produce for clients of Manna Food Pantry in Worthington. The Okabena Bees pick up garbage at Lake Bella County Park, served the meal for Worthington’s annual Hospice Cottage banquet and planned a Bigelow Fun Day to give back to residents in the town where they host their 4-H meetings.

Meanwhile, the Grand Prairie Rockets participate in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, picking up garbage along Minnesota 91 south of Adrian. They also landscaped in front of the municipal building, decorated a Christmas tree for the Love INC fundraiser, donated funds to the Adrian Ambulance and decorated local nursing homes for the holidays.


The kids doing all of this work range in age from 5 to 19, and for every 4-H’er, there’s also a parent or adult volunteer working alongside them.

“It feels nice knowing you can help others,” said Karissa Bickett, a member of the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H Club. She and her fellow members helped unload produce from a truck at Manna Food Pantry this summer and then carry those items to awaiting vehicles of people in need.

“What kind of surprised me, at Manna Food Pantry, is I saw some kids I knew from school,” Bickett said.

Her cousin, Logan Barber, said the Elk Tip Toppers have volunteered in many ways to help others.

“We played games at The Meadows last year,” Barber said. They also scraped the paint from and repainted the land office inside Pioneer Village, and they packed meals for Feed My Starving Children.

Cameron Wieneke of the Grand Prairie Rockets 4-H Club said his favorite Community Pride project is picking up garbage from the ditches along Minnesota 91.

“It’s fun,” he said, adding that 4-H’ers have found everything from dirty diapers to pop bottles, a blanket and even a bag of dog feces in the ditch.

Claire Hoffman and Mia Hieronimus, both members of the Okabena Bees, also get to pick up garbage for Community Pride, focusing their efforts at Lake Bella County Park and the area around the Lake Bella spillway -- not far from their club’s meeting place in Bigelow.


Hieronimus said she likes to help out with their project “just so that the community doesn’t end up looking like a dump.”

“It’s really nice to have clean lakes,” added Hoffman. “People who put trash on the ground can pollute the lake.”

The two 4-H’ers, along with the rest of their club’s members, also help served the meal at the Hospice Cottage’s annual fundraising banquet in April, and planned a Bigelow Fun Day for area kids in late June.

“It feels nice just to give back to them because they’ve done so much for us,” Hoffman said.

“It’s just fun to help other people,” Hieronimus added.

Just as 4-H has given much to the communities in which they live, work and play, so too have the communities and their businesses given much to 4-H, says Nobles County 4-H Program Coordinator Katie Klosterbuer. She said the county is lucky to have people who recognize the importance and value of the 4-H program and are willing to help make the youth organization successful.

Whether it’s a business or individual, Klosterbuer said many people in communities across Nobles County offer a helping hand to the 4-H program. It’s especially evident during the county fair.

“Without the support of our community, we wouldn’t be able to function,” she said Friday morning. That support includes help from the Nobles County Fair Association’s board members. She said the fair board has stepped in to help many times during the county fair, and was especially helpful with the Olson Arena repairs after high winds tore a large section of roof from the building more than a year ago. This year, fairgoers will notice a new roof and facade on the show arena.


Inside Olson Arena, TSC donated pallets of sawdust to cover the show ring -- after Duininck donated gravel to fill in holes and level off the ground. Meanwhile, Runnings loaned large fans, gates and panels for the beef and dairy show ring inside the former horse barn.

With all of the 4-H projects entered through a new computer program and scanning device for this year’s fair, Klosterbuer said MVTV Wireless provided free internet access throughout the fairgrounds for her and her staff to work.

In the 4-H Food Stand, sponsors supplied plates, napkins and plastic utensils, TSC provided water tanks to store ice and bottled beverages and Midwest Dairy Association donated cheese and ice cream.

The Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers provide 4-H T-shirts for each member to wear, and the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen contributed money and manpower to grill ribeye steaks for bidders in the 4-H Ribbon Auction Friday night. JBS and Radioworks donated the pork sold during the ribbon auction, and those proceeds pay for transporting 4-H exhibitors to the Minnesota State Fair.

New Vision Cooperative and the Veterinary Medical Center, in addition to sponsoring the co-op calf and co-op swine programs, sponsor numerous livestock awards for 4-H members and provide herdsmanship judges.

Klosterbuer recognized the Daily Globe and Radioworks for helping share the 4-H story throughout the year through newspaper articles and public service announcements. She also offered thanks to the countless volunteers who step up to help.

“I think our volunteers are key, and community support enhances what our volunteers do,” Klosterbuer said. “Without the volunteers, without their support, without people working with us, the kids wouldn’t get the quality program that they’re receiving right now.”

Nobles County has 225 youth members enrolled in the 4-H program and 100 screened volunteers.

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