North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota 4-Hs celebrate organizations in October
During National 4-H Week, celebrated October 3-9, clubs in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, like others in the United States, will celebrate their organization and highlight the opportunities that 4-H offers young people. Clubs also often recruit new members during National 4-H Week.
In Minnesota, the 4-H, young people have the opportunity to join one or more of the 800 clubs in the state. The clubs are active in rural, suburban and urban areas and in tribal communities, said Jennifer Skuza, state director of 4-H extension at the University of Minnesota. Young people can also join 4-H as an independent member who does not belong to a club but can participate in activities, make plans and participate in 4-H competitions.
About 66,000 young people are members of 4-H through clubs, independently or by participating in 4-H after-school programs, Skuza said.
“Minnesota 4-H is the state’s largest youth development organization,” she said. “In a typical year, 5,500 of our children go to the state fair. “
This year, the numbers were lower due to concerns over COVID-19, but 4,000 young people still competed in a state fair competition in St. Paul, Minn.,
“We were thrilled with that number,” Skuza said.
Minnesota 4-H members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities.
“Our fastest growing project area is STEM. Agriculture is one of them. We have kids learning about scouting crops, agronomy, horticulture and pollinator habitats, ”Skuza said.
Meanwhile, the arts, including fine art, creative arts, and photography, are also popular pursuits for 4-H youth.
Luke, Katy and Sarah Draxton pose at the Grand Forks County Fair on June 22, 2021 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Katy Draxton helped start a new 4-H club in 2020, the Northwood Meadowlarks. Two of her children in the photo, Luke and Sarah, are members of Cloverbud (ages 5-7). Katie Pinke / Agweek
Archery and other shooting sports are the most popular programs in North Dakota, said Dean Aakre, youth development specialist for North Dakota State University Extension. Interest in raising goats, which is part of the breeding program, has grown “by leaps and bounds,” he said.
The Goat Project gives young people the opportunity to learn how to care for livestock while working with a smaller animal that doesn’t require a lot of space to keep and is manageable to handle.
About 5,760 young people participate in North Dakota 4-H at about 350 clubs and independently, Aakre said. North Dakota youth may belong to more than one club, and some do because they are interested in specific programs, such as e-sports or horses.
One of 4-H’s strengths is that it offers North Dakota youth a variety of programming opportunities, and the way they are delivered is unique to the region the youth live in, Aakre said.
“Anything they want to study,” he said. “It’s wide open.”
In South Dakota, approximately 8,500 young people per year participate in approximately 400 4-H clubs and independently.
“Each county has about five to ten clubs,” said Tim Tanner, director of the 4-H extension program at South Dakota State University.
A cow is washed before being shown in 4-H at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron in this Republic file photo. (Matt Gade / Republic)
The three most popular 4-H programs in the state are breeding, shooting sports, and rodeo. There is also a lot of interest in archery and shooting sports.
Young people who participate in 4-H learn to be punctual and conscientious, and develop a strong work ethic, Tanner said. They also learn to speak in public and to work collaboratively with others.
Whatever activities they are involved in, the goals of 4-H are to help young people determine where their interests lie and then help them hone their skills and develop a career path, said Skuza. .
“We want young people to be young leaders, thinkers, innovators and agents of change,” she said.