Mutual aid: 4-Her organizes Kansas relief project

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Head, hands, health and heart: Charlotte Wilson is throwing all of those into her idea for a relief effort for Kansas ranchers hit by wildfires.

One of the efforts for the disaster relief project is for 4-H members in Stutsman County to write notes of encouragement to the Kansas ranchers hit by wildfires in March. Photo taken June 29, 2017, at Jamestown, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Head, hands, health and heart: Charlotte Wilson is throwing all of those into her idea for a relief effort for Kansas ranchers hit by wildfires.

Wilson, 10, of Jamestown, N.D., is a daughter of Sarah and Jeremy Wilson. A member of Country Kids 4-H Club, she decided to take action about the Kansas disaster after viewing a Facebook video on the topic last March. Wildfires there burned over 700,000 acres in 21 counties.

"I thought, I just feel so bad for these people," Charlotte recalls. "I thought, you know what? At the fair I'm going to enter some of my projects for that cause. I'm going to mail them down there. I thought maybe a nice quilt that I made."

Other groups and individuals from the Dakotas and Minnesota have put some muscle into relief efforts, including the state Farm Bureau and North Dakota Stockmen's Association, but Charlotte had a mission of her own. She took the idea to her 4-H club and then to the Stutsman County Farm Bureau, where her mother is a board member.

Charlotte designed posters for the effort and took posters around to businesses in town. She designed and set up a booth at the Stutsman County Fair, which ran June 28 to July 1. Eighty quilts had been donated by the second day of the fair. Charlotte stood at the booth part of the time when she wasn't showing her goats. Other 4-H clubs joined the effort.


"I was really excited that the kids wanted to do something tangible, that they could really see, that things that they made were going to be sent directly to those affected by the wildfires," Sarah Wilson says.

The Farm Bureau is making a push to send fencing supplies. Larger quantities will be picked up around the county from July 10 to July 14. Money donations designated as "Wildfire Relief" will be used for added fencing supplies, and can be sent to the Stutsman County Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 1490, Jamestown, N.D., 58401.

Those with questions about the fencing can contact her at 701-269-4438, or at .

Fencing help

The Farm Bureau plans to support the effort with shipping. One farmer, David Glinz, who owns Glinz Transfer - told Sarah he'd been looking for a way to help too. "He says, 'I've got your truck (needs) covered,'" Sarah says, saying he would provide the driver, fuel and semi-trailer tractor. J.P. Wiest has donated the use of a 53-foot van trailer.

The rig will take off for Kansas on July 17, and the driver will be a local 4-H dad.

Sarah Wilson, who grew up on a Maryland farm and got her master's in animal science from North Dakota State University, is a blogger and chairman of her local Farm Bureau education and promotion efforts. She says the thing that's affected her the most about the project is contacting people in churches and relief organizations at Ashland, Kan.

"Hearing their response, when I talk about the kids and their project: they're really touched by it," Sarah says. "And kids are writing encouraging cards to go with their donations. It's hard not to get emotional when you see kids really sharing their time and talents and the gifts that they have for people in need. They have that passion for agriculture and they want to help others that are also participating in livestock stewardship. It means a lot."


Sarah says the next step is to pay attention to people in the developing drought, closer to home in North Dakota. "I just think the agricultural community is going to continue to rally - every time - anytime any of our brothers and sisters in agriculture are faced with any kind of disaster like this," she says.

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