Summit County 4-H offers wide range of summer programs
Enrollment is now open for Summit County 4-H summer programs. Kids from ages 5-18 are eligible to participate. Attendance is free for those who are already enrolled in the 4-H Youth Development Program. Anyone who is not currently a member may join for $40, which will cover any clubs or programs through the end of September.
4-H has been a part of Summit County for nearly 20 years, 15 of which have been under the direction of Kathie Kralik.
“In that time, she’s taken 4-H from six clubs and 40 kids to, currently we have over 25 clubs and in the traditional 4-H club-based programming, we have about 220-250 youth,” said Dan Schroder, Colorado State University extension agent and director in Summit County.
There are two categories of activities in the 4-H program — traditional and non-traditional. The traditional activities are those that have been part of 4-H programming from the beginning and are usually based on agriculture or home economics, including sewing, knitting, cake decorating, archery, rifle, horseback riding and raising livestock. Non-traditional activities include modern technology.
“It’s over 100 years old, so there’s a very traditional sense to 4-H and it comes out of the agricultural arena that our country was once in as a primary way for people to make a living,” Schroder said. “These days the tradition still remains, but there’s also a progressive angle, which is including 21st century ideals into a traditional agriculturally based entity. In Summit County, we’re quite progressive; we don’t really have much in the way of livestock, which is the traditional kind of thing.”
That’s not to say there aren’t any traditional 4-H clubs in Summit County, however. There are plenty of horseback-riding representatives, for example. The first equine gymkhana event will take place June 9 at the fairgrounds in Silverthorne. Woodworking club holds its orientation June 6, and other opportunities abound with gardening and sewing clubs from June through August.
The non-traditional programs have made a strong showing in Summit County in recent years, according to Schroder. Over the past two years, the CSU Extension office, through 4-H, has connected with the Summit School District to promote STEM, a national education initiative that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students in schools throughout the county get involved through before-school, in-school and after-school programming. Schroder estimates that more than 1,000 students are involved.
Other 4-H clubs in Summit County focus on outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing. The fly fishing club will be offering a fly-tying class May 21 and mountain biking club orientation starts June 4.
“We’re mountain bikers and we’re fly fishers and we’re hikers, which a lot of Colorado residents embrace those opportunities, but we live them, so 4-H helps solidify these activities into kids’ lives,” Schroder said.
Aside from clubs and activities, service learning plays an important role for 4-H participants. Each 4-H member is required to fulfill a certain number of community-service hours.
The recpath between Summit County and Vail Pass, for example, is maintained by 4-H members.
“It’s a matter of being responsible, committed, contributing citizens,” Schroder said. “4-H is here to help grow young people into productive people, and the activities are how we get there and the clubs are how we get there.”
More than 40 adult volunteers assist 4-H in Summit County, running clubs and instructing classes.
“It’s really driven by volunteers,” Schroder said. “It’s the volunteers who make 4-H happen here in Summit County.”
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