Annual enrollment for 4-H continues through the end of the month. Starke County Extension Director and 4-H Youth Development Educator Elisabeth Smith says it’s a youth enrichment program for youngsters in grade school through high school.
“Our traditional 4-H program starts in 3rd grade and goes until a member is in 12th grade or 10 years. Prior to that, in order to introduce the kids and get them excited about 4-H, we have what’s called “Exploring 4-H.” That’s for our youth in kindergarten through 2nd grade,” said Smith.
Smith says 4-H is open to all rural and urban youth who fall into the program’s age parameters. Exploring 4-H members are limited to one project per year, but traditional 4-H members can take as many projects as they are comfortable juggling. Smith adds the program offers something for everyone.
“We have those traditional agriculture-based things, such as crops and livestock, but we also have things for kids who are maybe more artsy, and they want to take a craft project or gift wrapping or Christmas ornament. Or we have something for our kids who like to build, so we have models and rockets. We have architectural models, which they often use K’nex or Legos. We also have things for kids who are outdoorsy. Maybe they like wildlife or shooting sports. We really have something for everyone,” Smith said.
Smith says some projects like electricity have leaders to assist.
“A lot of our projects we have that, but some of our projects are more do on your own. They’ll get a project manual, which will have activities for them to complete, go through and learn more about that area of subject. Then they’ll complete an exhibit. Each project has different exhibit requirements, but that’s basically the culminating event. We display those on the fair in our exhibit building,” said Smith.
The Starke County 4-H Fair takes place every July in Hamlet. Smith says hands-on time during fair week varies based on the type of project a member takes. Find more information about 4-H, including an online enrollment form on the Purdue Extension Starke County website https://www.four-h.purdue.edu/enroll/. You can also stop by the office, which is located on the first floor of the Starke County Courthouse.