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September 20, 2012

4-H clubs hope to grow with weekend event

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — An afternoon of hands-on fun awaits visitors to Sunday’s Discover 4-H Day at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, an organizer said.

Events will take place from 1 to 4 p.m., and there is no charge for admission. This is the first time that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties has presented this event, Otsego 4-H director Patti Zellmer said.

4-H members, leaders, parents and educators will be on hand to answer questions and participate in club activities. The first 150 youths will get a free pumpkin. Door prizes are awarded hourly to those in attendance.     

Oct. 1 is the start of a new 4-H season. This is the first time the organization is holding this kind of event to recruit new members and leaders.

Parent information sessions will be presented at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

There are youths ages 5-19 who want to be part of a 4-H club, Zellmer said, but there are not enough volunteer leaders in the area. She hoped the event will help more adults to see what 4-H is about. While agriculture remains an important theme for many clubs, she said, there’s a lot more that takes place.

“Leaders get to decide what they want to do,” she said.

Among the approximately 30 clubs that will be presenting is the Cherry Valley-Springfield Apple Blossoms, which has an environmental science theme. This includes making “chia people” and marksmanship.

Leader Melinda Supp has been involved with the club and its related organizations for about 25 years. 4-H is “a worthwhile organization that provides a diversity of opportunity for the kids” – limited only by what participants want, she said. She has four children who went through the program. One is a leader now in Cortland County. She said she hopes visitors Sunday will see that “4-H is a lot more than they think it is.”

Elaina Palada, 14,  will be participating in the Gilbertsville Kool Kidz. She has been a member for nine years. “It’s such a great experience.” She was looking forward to talking with people about all the activities the club participates in: including field trips, woodworking, photography and sewing. The group’s “Buzzy Bees,” (ages 5-7) will be offering food samples.  “It offers so many opportunities,” Palada said about her participation, and “it looks good on a college resume.”