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4-H program teaches many life lessons; volunteers and members welcomePosted Friday, February 11, 2011, at 11:54 AM
A nice crowd paused Thursday night to pay tribute to 133 youngsters and a host of volunteer leaders who participate in the Greene County 4-H program.
The occasion was the annual 4-H achievement dinner at the fairgrounds.
The top 4-H participants in a variety of projects that were exhibited at the 2010 county fair last July were honored and treated to a free meal prior to receiving special achievement awards.
As usual, the hamburgers, pork burgers and hot dogs were yummy and my hat is off and fork is lifted to the guys who braved one of the coldest days of the winter to grill up the tasty treats.
The night was about awards and saying thank you to the many folks who make the Greene County 4-H program a continuing success as the largest youth organization in the area.
Each year about 800 kids -- in grades 3-12 -- participate in the program through regular 4-H, mini 4-H (kindergarten-3rd grade) and the 4-H enrichment programs in our schools.
Adult volunteers are key to the success of the 4-H program and there are many club leaders and project leaders who donate countless hours during the year in preparation for the showcasing of projects at the yearly fair.
Many of these leaders and a lot of the parents of 4-H members take their vacations at the fairgrounds each year during fair week -- just to help out.
Greene County 4-H Council member Kerry "Goose" Graves, a 10-year 4-Her in his youthful days, gave some encouraging words about the local program and solicited more volunteer help during remarks to the gathering.
"A lot of people think it's ag-related and that is basically where it got its roots. It started out as an ag group, now we have over 80 some projects that really don't have a whole lot to do with agriculture."
Graves traced the history of the local 4-H Fair.
The fair has been around the county for 85 years.
The current 40-acre fairground site -- located about a mile east of Switz City along State Road 54 -- was established in 1968 with the first fair at that location in 1972.
Sometime in 1971, local excavating companies donated their time and equipment and began clearing the land and the barn building began.
Rural Lyons resident Teddy York was one of the guys who unloaded the first dozer to clear the grounds and he's probably not missed a fair since that time helping to do whatever he could to improve the place, according to Graves.
Up until that time, the fairs were hosted in Linton, Lyons and Worthington and other communities.
The current extension office was built in 1978. The building has since been deeded to the county and it also houses the office of the Greene County Foundation.
In 1999 the fairgrounds was upgraded with new barns -- thanks to a state grant -- and a firearm shooting range was added a couple of years ago due to the volunteer work of a 4-H member, who made the range his Boy Scout Eagle rank community project.
In recent years the grandstands and the pull strip have also been upgraded.
This fair is not a carnival.
It showcases livestock and hundreds of 4-H projects.
I guess you can call it a "Farm Fair" and that's not a bad thing.
Building life-long friendships are also a key benefit of the 4-H program.
Graves said 4-H is a great character and social skills building program that gives youngsters a sound foundation for later life challenges.
"It also teaches you that life is not always fair. Whether you have a steer or a project that you worked on about all year and you come over here and you find out that you're not always going to get first. You might get dead last. You just have to realize that is what happens. It makes you tougher for life's stuff that is going to happen," Graves stressed.
The 4-H program provides other benefits likes camps, workshops, and scholarships.
Graves said there is plenty of talk around the Indiana statehouse about cutting funds for education and one of the programs under the education umbrella is 4-H.
He encouraged parents and 4-H members to contact their lawmakers and tell them how important 4-H has been to them and urge them to maintain sufficient funding levels to ensure that 4-H continues in this county and others throughout Indiana.
To learn more about 4-H or volunteering contact Greene County Purdue Extension Service Educator Tammy Steiner by calling 659-2122.
There's still time to get signed up for the 2011 Fair, which runs July 16-23.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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