August 2012
4-H Extension Corner

4-H Is Where You Live

 


4-H outdoor activities are designed to be interesting and educational. From the climbing wall at the Alabama 4-H Center to firing a rifle at the local firing range, 4-H feeds young people’s needs for adventure and excitement, but in a safe and controlled setting.

From time to time, we like to highlight what’s going on in 4-H in counties around Alabama. This month we are looking at different ends of the state: Morgan and Pike counties. Although the counties differ in many ways, 4-H is there to provide young people with the Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery that are the core of 4-H.

Pike County 4-H Highlights

4-H reaches over 1,500 youth in 11 city and county schools as well as a homeschool group. In addition, we have a horse club, a Junior Master Gardener club and a livestock club. We are planning to start an archery club in the fall.

On Veterans Day every year, Pike County 4-H participates in Outdoor Sports Day at Camp Alaflo in New Brockton with seven other surrounding counties. Outdoor Sports Day is a day full of fun and learning, with activities like archery, tree tagging, .22 rifle shooting, fishing, square dancing and reptiles. More than 150 youth attended in 2011. We hope the event grows even more this year.

Clockwise from right,  Kids at Pike County’s TroyFest get a hands-on learning experience thanks to Albi the ball python. 4-H provides opportunities for young people to have a diversity of experiences in science and environmental education. With your trusty bow and arrow, a guy can become Robin Hood or girl can be Princess Merida. 4-H Shooting Sports is teaching these Pike County young people skills and self-confidence – and it is always fun! Many Alabama young people, rural and urban, never get a chance to go fishing. This young man from Pike County is participating in the regional Outdoor Sports Day. Sports Fishing is a favorite activity for many kids in Alabama 4-H.


 


Last fall, we held a 4-H Football Day at Troy University and invited 4-Hers from Dale and Coffee counties to join our Pike County 4-Hers. Nearly 200 4-H youth, volunteers, families and staff attended. We had a tailgate with hotdogs and hamburgers, played football and Frisbee, and even had some Troy University cheerleaders stop by! 4-H is planning to make this an annual event.

In April, we set up a 4-H booth at TroyFest, an annual arts and crafts festival in Troy. Grant Lyons, county Extension coordinator, and Rachel Lee, regional Extension agent, set up the 4-H kiosk and displayed Skins N Skulls…and a live snake! The snake, a baby ball python named Albi, was the star of the day. Throughout the day, youth visited the booth to see the snake and get a chance to touch him. Several youth kept coming back! While the youth were at the booth, they got information about Pike County 4-H and 4-H freebies. They also learned about animals native to Alabama and facts about ball pythons. Grant and Rachel felt like the day was a huge success in spreading the word about 4-H.

Morgan County 4-H Highlights

According to Morgan County 4-H Agent Assistant Sharon Fisher, one of the most effective activities in Morgan County 4-H is Robotics. Morgan County has had a 4-H Robotics club for nearly five years. The club is part of the science program at Danville Middle Schools and is led by Karen Melson. Seventh and eighth grade students meet several days a week and focus on Lego NXT Robots. The club started with two kits and now has eight.

 


Left, for many junior and senior high students in Morgan County, 4-H Science Education activities provide a hands-on supplement to their classroom experience. 4-H is a national leader in training young people in science, engineering and technology. Above, the United States is falling behind other countries in the numbers of young people looking at careers in science and technology. Through robotics and rocketry programs, these young people can begin to get a sense of their interests and potential professional opportunities.

As a measure of their success, science and math scores have increased in the school so much the robotics programs have attracted the attention of the county educational administration. We now hope to place the robotics curriculum in all Morgan County seventh and eighth grade science and math classes next year.

Last year, 4-H held the first North Alabama Robotics Competitive Event. There were six teams from Lauderdale and Morgan counties with junior, intermediate and senior teams. Medals were awarded and fun was had by all!

To help build robotics mastery, we recently held two workshops in the region, one with the Junk-Drawer Robotics approach developed by the University of Nebraska. This two-day class will be of great benefit in helping spread this "cool" approach to science, engineering and technology. Morgan County staff was also represented at the Southern Region Science Academy attending inspiring and informative workshops.The Morgan County 4-H program offers our county’s young people many opportunities to grow and learn. Among the projects appealing to young people are Public Speaking, the $15 Challenge, Interior Design, Extreme Birdhouse, Healthy Living and Chef 4-H.

Summer workshops are also offered in Morgan County: Omelet Making, Dog Obedience, Cake Decorating and a Stepping Stone Workshop.

The future of 4-H is good in Morgan County, and our staff and volunteers are looking forward to seeing the program grow throughout the coming year.

Rachel Lee is a 4-H Regional Extension Agent, Sharon Fisher is a Morgan County 4-H Agent Assistant and Chuck Hill is a State 4-H Youth Development Specialist.