Homer’s newest 4-H club is looking for members. A group of parents and interested community members has been working for the last several months to put everything together. Kids from the ages of 5 to 18 are welcome to take part.
The structure is there, now the people in charge just need kids to start showing up. And the youth club is sort of like a “choose-your-own-adventure” situation. If you want to learn about shooting you can do that. If you’d prefer spending your time outside planting a garden, that’s no problem. Or maybe you’re really into building robots, that’s a program included in the 4-H curriculum.
Jason Floyd is the 4-H Youth and Development Agent with the UAF Cooperative Extension Office. He runs programming on the Kenai Peninsula. Floyd said that sort of self-determined experience is what sets the program apart.
“There’s a lot of programs that tell kids ‘we have a skill or a knowledge set that we want to impart to you, and here are the parameters of that.’ 4-H is a little different in that it says ‘we have the basic structure and support network to make your project exploration successful. What do you wanna do,’” he said.
Floyd said there are probably in the neighborhood of 15 clubs on the peninsula. Homer now has two. An equestrian club has been around for a while.
“The clubs are varied in their focus and it’s kind of exciting to see them grow,” he said.
Deborah Anderson has taken on the role of Club Leader, but there are other volunteer resource leaders.
“Resource leaders support the organizational leader for the club in providing support roles around specific project areas that they’re interested in,” he said.
Floyd said once there are enough interested kids, the club can begin electing officers and move forward.
“They’ll elect a board, where there will be a youth president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. That board and the rest of the youth membership will identify different project interest areas they have and set some goals for the year,” he said.
He said there are ways for community members to get involved and support the club. If you have a child in the group, volunteering kind of goes with the territory. But if you don’t have a kid signed up with the club, Floyd said there are still some possibilities.
“You can either do that as an outside consultant… somebody who is invited by the club leader to come to a specific meeting. Or if there’s a project-specific function you’d like to perform, then we would ask you to fill out an application to become a volunteer leader. And that would require you passing a background check,” Floyd said.
He said you also must have a good driving record and go through a few online training courses specific to 4-H curriculum. If anyone is interested in volunteering, they should talk with either Floyd or other leaders with the new club. Meetings will likely continue taking place at the REC Room.