Kids benefit from early signup as 4-H members

RBC I Although most 4-H clubs won’t begin project work until next year, enrolling your child in 4-H now comes with some benefits.
Once children sign up with 4-H — a new enrollment period, which began last month, allows new participants to create a profile at colorado.4honline.com — they can attend community council meetings, participate in community service and fun kid-geared activities, and keep up on happenings via newsletter and email.
And they can do all of it before official clubs kick off between January and March.
Rio Blanco County 4-H extension agent Dessa Watson said that while many people think of 4-H culminating at the summer’s county fair or fall’s 4-H achievement night, there’s plenty to keep kids active throughout the year, whether they’re re-enrolling or signing up for the first time.
“Once you join, you’re in the 4-H loop,” Watson said. “Lots of things happen outside of your 4-H club area. For example, the council might plan a craft tomorrow after school that’s open to everybody. We offer trips, local activities, regional and even statewide opportunities that happen all year long.”
In addition to the more well-known livestock projects, Rangely and Meeker 4-H offer clubs in gun and archery shooting sports, scrap-booking, cake decorating, horseback riding and dog obedience. Other Meeker clubs focus on gardening, leather-crafting, visual arts and photography as well as robotics. Both towns offer a Cloverbud Club for children ages five through eight.
Colorado currently has more than 200 state-approved projects, Watson said, and although Rio Blanco County offers several of them, plenty of opportunities still exist for new leaders to share a hobby, craft or personal interest with 4-H youth.
“If there’s something that you’d like to do with kids, we can work it out,” Watson said. “You don’t necessarily have to know everything about how to do it. If you want to learn with young kids who are enthusiastic, we’ll provide the information to help figure it out.”
Watson added that many of the crafts or skills a potential leader might teach children, from singing to rock climbing to painting, could be adjusted to fit a state-approved project category.
To enroll, parents create a family profile and add individual children to it at colorado.4honline.com (immunization record information can be bypassed temporarily).
Right now, Watson said, the $25 enrollment fee per child cannot be paid online but should be dropped off at Meeker’s 4-H office at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds (or sent to P.O. Box 270) or at the 4-H office in Rangely’s County Annex Building. Children ages eight (by Jan. 1, 2014) through 18 are eligible for all clubs while 5- to 8-year-olds can join the Cloverbuds Club.
“What we really hope to give the kids is a sense of belonging,” Watson said. “4-H activities bring everybody involved in the program a little closer together. It really becomes like a family.”
To sign up, obtain more information, contact Jayda Lewis at 878-9495 in Rangely or Watson at 878-9490 in Meeker.