4-H: A place to belong

A 4-H flag is shown. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

Feeling like you need something to do? 4-H might just be the thing for you! In the next few months, 4-H members all over the county gear up for this year's activities and projects. Here is a just a glimpse of some of the things 4-H'ers will be doing.

Soon members will be ordering their poultry chain chicks. 4-H'ers will pay a small fee for up to 20-day-old chicks that they will be raising over the next five months.

In September, the kids will provide four of their grown chickens for show at the Garland County Fair. As they raise the chicks, they will learn to be responsible for feeding and caring for their flock. They will learn to keep records concerning the work they do as they prepare the chickens for the fair in the fall. Upon registering for chicks, participants will get a pamphlet giving them instructions concerning the care of the babies.

The 4-H'ers who show livestock at the fair will begin to shop around and purchase their animals. Some families may have raised animals from their own herds, while others buy from a breeder. As soon as their projects are secured, all will start the process to get their prized possessions ready for showing.

With those projects, participants will learn to keep their animals fed, watered and healthy. They will learn the responsibility of caring for their project seven days a week and will gain knowledge and skills in record keeping. These animals must also be handled, exercised, and trained so they will be somewhat mannerly in the show ring.

Garland County 4-H'ers also get ready for two county competitive O-Rama events. The Big "T" events include vocal talent, instrumental talent, and dance talent. Also included in the events of the competition are talks of all types. Talks about animals, safety, the environment, veterinary science, photography, technology, entomology, and many others will be prepared and delivered as part of the O-Rama activities.

Fashion Revue is another event of the evening. 4-H'ers also participate in the Farm Bureau Dairy Foods Contest at Big T. Later into the spring, the Big "B" events will take place. Competitions include BB Gun Safety and Marksmanship, Bicycle Obstacle Course and Parts ID, Bait Casting and Fish ID, and Poultry BBQ. These friendly competitive events are great fun for everyone. All O-Rama events are divided into three age groups: Cloverbud, 5-8; Junior, 9-13; and Senior, 14-18.

After the county competitions are finished, district and state competitions are held in the summer months. 4-H kids compete in activities similar to those in the county, and they get the opportunity to compete in activities that are not offered at the county level. Competing at State O-Rama means a trip to the Fayetteville campus.

Not only do the members participate in the different competitions, but they also get a taste of "campus life" and learn a lot about the college. There are fun activities to attend and a great time of bonding with their county. They also get to meet other kids from across the state and learn about what other county 4-H programs are doing.

Other popular activities happening in Garland County for 4-H members are the photography contest and the poster art contest. In April, the Awards Banquet is a fun time of dressing up, eating, and receiving trophies, plaques, certificates, and jackets for all the hard work of the previous year.

As the weather warms, those with horses begin competition season. Even if members don't own a horse, it is a fun event for everyone to watch! Horse competitors have the opportunity to show at the District and State level during the summer months.

Shooting sports members are involved in two major competitions during June and July. Lots of practicing and lots of safety lessons make this event safe as well as fun.

Also, throughout the summer, county and state 4-H camps will take place. The Arkansas 4-H State Camping Program offers camping and training opportunities for young persons 5-19 years old and adults. They offer both day camp and overnight camping, at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center, 10 miles west of Little Rock. 4-H'ers enjoy canoeing, swimming, archery, fishing, rock climbing, high ropes challenge course, off-site adventure camping, and more! Most of September and October are spent at various levels of fair events -- county, district and state.

In addition to all those countywide activities, 4-H members attend monthly community club meetings. Teens also attend monthly Teen Leader Meetings where they plan county activities and gain leadership skills.

Garland County 4-H provides programs for everyone! There are over 80 different project areas from which to choose. Call the Garland County Extension Office for details about how your child can be part of an awesome group of kids!

  photo  Carol Ann McAfee - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

4-H Information

There are several 4-H clubs for Garland County young people who are 5 to 19 years old. For more information on all the fun 4-H activities that are available, call Carol Ann McAfee at the Extension Office at 501-623-6841 or email her at [email protected].

Master Gardener information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge. Meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information, call Luke Duffle at the Extension Office, 501-623-6841, or email him at [email protected].

EHC information

Interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For more information on EHC, call Alison Crane, family and consumer sciences agent, at 501-623-6841 or email her at [email protected].