It’s recruiting time in Platte County for new 4-H members, and Laura Evans wants to get the word out.
About 80 youth in Platte County participate in 4-H programs ranging from robotics, to veterinary science to sewing — more than 100 projects in all. More than 55,000 youth are involved in 4-H throughout the state.
Through 4-H, youth ages 5 to 18 are given the opportunity to get engaged in their community. They learn citizenship, leadership and life skills, said Evans, the 4-H youth development specialist in Platte County.
Denny George of Platte City, who is blind in one eye and has Tourette syndrome, thrives in 4-H.
“Denny has overcome lots of challenges and 4-H has helped him to overcome those challenges,” Evans said. “It’s amazing, one eye blind and able to shoot an arrow. And he’s advanced on to state competition.”
Denny has since become a member of the Platte County Park Rangers 4-H Club, one of four in the county.
Fourteen-year-old Jack Bartlett, also a member of the Platte County Park Rangers, says that 4-H has taught him it is better to try new things, fail, and then improve than to never have tried at all.
“4-H also encourages me to be a well-rounded person,” Jack said. “ ‘Making the best better’ isn’t just a motto. It represents a way I want to live.”
Evans herself joined when she was 5 and remembers the skills she learned, including an etymology project when she was 8.
“With etymology, you have to be really precise and you have to be attentive to details. So those skills I learned through etymology have provided me the opportunity to learn to recognize details as well as be precise.”
When parents or children question the value of 4-H, Evans tells them it’s a lifelong journey.
“It’s not just what they gain through the 12 years of their experience,” she said.
“It’s the skills they are going to be gaining on how to sew on a button, how to balance a checkbook, how to change the oil in the car, how to stand up and speak in front of a group, or get the confidence to stand up and speak in front of a group and spark the interest for a career.”
Evans’ daughter Emily is a fourth generation 4-H’er. And her husband, Paul, was also in 4-H.
“Our blood bleeds green,” said Evans.
In addition to individual projects, youth can participate in events and contests planned each year such as 4-H Camp, Presentation Day, Clover Kid Camp, Family Fun Event, county fair, career tours, and community festivals. They also give demonstrations and participate in public speaking.
The cost to enroll is $25 a year. Scholarships are available for youth needing assistance. Youth are encouraged to enroll by Dec. 31, although enrollment is welcome throughout the year.
For information on getting involved in 4-H, as a member or volunteer leader, go to extension.missouri.edu//platte or contact Evans at 816-270-2141. In Clay County call 816-407-3490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.