by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sartell now has a fledgling 4-H club, the “Sartell Superstars,” thanks to a woman and her son who thought it was about time 4-H members have a close-to-home place to meet.
Kris Roberts-Cornett and her son, Josh Maricle-Roberts, an eighth-grader at Sartell Middle School, live at the very western edge of Sartell. Before moving there a few years ago, they lived in St. Joseph, and Josh was a member of a 4-H club in Rockville. After moving to the Sartell area, it was a long trip – at least once a month – to drive to and from the Rockville club’s meeting place.
“That drive got to be a bit much in the winter,” Roberts-Cornett said.
She and Sara Budde decided it would be a good idea to form a club in Sartell. Budde, an employee of the Stearns County Extension Service, is the county coordinator for 4-H clubs. Roberts-Cornett agreed to become leader of the club. She was a 4-H leader years ago when she lived in Iowa and was also a leader of the Sauk Valley 4-H club. In addition, she was leader of the Rockville club for a couple of years.
So far, organizers have not publicized the Sartell Superstars 4-H club very much, although there are already two families interested in it.
“It’s seems like I’ve been a member of 4-H forever,” Roberts-Cornett said.
Daughters Megan and Amanda, now grown, were 4-H members for years. Josh remains an avid member. He has been doing 4-H woodwork projects and is also raising chickens and goats. Josh is keen about the subject of robotics and is pondering a plunge into the study of genealogy for a 4-H project.
At one time, many years ago, 4-H clubs largely centered around agricultural pursuits, such as raising animals and pets as hobbies and growing vegetables and fruits. Decades ago, the organization mainly attracted parents and children from family farms. Everyone is familiar with 4-H from visiting the 4-H exhibit barns at county and state fairs. Typically, the contained a wealth of exhibits – prize-winning vegetables, flowers and animals, along with some scientific-type projects done by youth.
In the last few decades, 4-H is no longer tied solely to agriculture-related topics. It has expanded hugely to accommodate a proliferation of hobbies and interests that were virtually unheard of years ago, such projects as those dealing with computerization, robotics and rocketry – to name just three. And, throughout the years, an increasing number of city children have joined 4-H clubs.
Some of the subjects pursued by today’s 4-H children include photography, writing musical plays, arts and crafts, woodwork, metal work, clothing and textiles, food and nutrition and, of course, the agricultural projects of raising animals and growing gardens.
One the best things about 4-H, Roberts-Cornett said, is members select their own projects to do, and they can come up with their own ideas for projects – virtually anything they wish to pursue. In fact, “self-determined” is one of the category choices.
Based in Washington, D.C., 4-H was founded in 1902 as a non-profit organization under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its logo is the familiar four-leaf clover with an “H” on every leave. The “H” letters stand for Hands, Heart, Health and Head. There are 6.5 million 4-H members in the United States.
The purpose of 4-H is to help children learn, through projects and social interactions, such life-time skills as motivation, confidence, kindness, decision-making, communication skills and leadership. Being a member in 4-H may involve field trips, camping, school-enrichment activities, educational visits from guest speakers and community involvement, including volunteerism. In some cases, 4-H children get the chance to attend statewide and national leadership conferences.
A study by Tufts University found 4-H youth tend to have better grades and are more emotionally involved in their school than non-4-H members. They are also twice as likely to be civically active and contribute to their societies. In addition, they are 47 percent less likely to exhibit risky or problem behaviors.
4-H is for any children grades K-12 (and up to one year after high school).
If anyone is interested in joining the Sartell Superstars 4-H club, they should call Roberts-Cornett at 320-828-1121.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.