PORT ANGELES — Melissa Greer and Dan McCarty want to get the word out: 4H is more than horses, home arts and rabbits.
The youth organization certainly excels in those areas, but its wide-ranging programs also include activities such as robotics, photography, filmmaking, shooting sports like rifle and archery, citizenship, small engines and mountain biking.
What is consistent across all programs is a focus on creating opportunities for leadership, instilling civic-mindedness and developing life skills like responsibility, decision-making and goal-setting said Greer, Clallam County’s 4H and Youth Empowerment Specialist.
Greer and McCarty, Clallam County’s 4H Livestock and Regional Small Farms Programs Specialist, will host two events at North Olympic Library System branches next week to answer questions, provide information and recruit members and volunteers for the upcoming 4H year that begins Saturday, Oct. 1.
One will be in Forks on Monday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the branch at 171 S. Forks Ave., and the other in Port Angeles on Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the library at 2210 S. Peabody St.
4H clubs and programs are open to youths from 9 to 18 years old and Cloverbud programs are available to those ages 5 to 8.
Learning comes through tapping into a young person’s particular interest, whether that is a raising a turkey, building a rocket or participating in a theater project.
“There’s a lot of flexibility in what they want to do,” Greer said.
McCarty will be starting an agricultural livestock club in the West End this fall for beef, dairy, hog, sheep, poultry and goat projects.
Those who are interested in either becoming members or volunteers should stop by the Forks library on Monday, he said.
The shortage of adult volunteers is one of the biggest factors limiting the growth of 4H. While knowledge of a particular subject, whether it’s knitting or sheep shearing or forestry helps, it isn’t required.
“You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be interested in the success of young people,” McCarty said.
Working with and mentoring young people and making a commitment to dedicate one’s time to a 4H program are the basic obligations.
And, while the Clallam County Fair is the highlight of the year for many members, Greer said that monthly meetings, activities and community service projects throughout the year are integral to the 4H experience.
For example, the Know Your Government program for ninth- to 12th-graders teaches students about the legislative system, judicial system, elections and politics and media to prepare them for the opportunity to participate in a four-day statewide conference every February where they engage with other 4H members from across Washington.
For questions about 4H or the Know Your Government program, contact Melissa Greer at 360-912-2062.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com.