‘Make the best better’

Highlighting Cullman County 4-H programs

Cullman County 4-H’ers at the archery and disc golf day camp in August (Cullman County 4-H)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County 4-H Club recently began its 2022-2023 year. 4-H grants youth members opportunities for leadership and growth in a wide variety of agricultural and technical skills. Last year, the club had more than 1,200 members. New members are welcome to join all year long as many of the club’s activities are seasonal.

4-H offers programming through in-school clubs for fourth and fifth grades in most city and county schools in Cullman: special interest clubs (cattle, chickens, pigs, livestock judging, shotgun, wildlife, forestry, dog, robotics, cooking), enrichment (day programs of kayaking, livestock, archery, arts and crafts, etc.), camping (summer camp and day camps) and independent membership (youth can participate on their own and not be a part of a club).

“We have a great partnership with our local schools to offer the leadership and projects that 4-H offers through what we call in-school clubs. In Cullman we have in-school clubs for fourth and fifth graders at almost all of our city and county schools,” Cullman County 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent Kerri Roberts said. “We begin in fourth grade because that is when students are 9 years old, which is the minimum 4-H age. We offer a 4-H Community Club for youth that love 4-H and no longer have it in school and for our growing homeschool population. The Community Club members participate in the same projects the school members do, including Extreme Birdhouse, Photography, Chef 4-H, Storytelling, Blocks Rock Legos and more!”

Some programs happening this fall include Tech Changemakers, which is in its second year in Alabama. It is a youth leadership program where senior level youth (ages 14-18) teach technology to adults. Also VEX Robotics, a competition team (ages 9-14) meets weekly on Thursday afternoons at Cullman Christian School.

Other upcoming events include:

  • Biggest Catch Contest: Participants have until Sept. 6 to catch a fish, snap a picture of them measuring it and email the photo to roberk5@auburn.edu.
  • Livestock shows at the Cullman County Fair: Registration is open at www.cullmanfair.org for youth livestock shows of pet, miniature horse, horse, goat, sheep and cattle. Registration closes Sept. 21.
  • Cullman County Fair Youth Pet Show: Register at www.cullmanfair.org. Pet divisions are “dogs” and “other than dogs.” Categories are Best Dressed, Most Unusual, Ugliest Dog and Best Trick.

Roberts spoke about some of the academic benefits of joining 4-H, saying, “Alabama 4-H offers scholarships for our outstanding youth. These are not just for youth attending four-year universities but can go for community college or trade schools as well. Our state focus with senior level youth is to prepare youth for the workforce or college. Youth in 4-H are hard workers who are encouraged to hone their skills of record keeping, financial management and interpersonal relationships. There are great life skills learned by committing to feed project pigs twice a day over the cold winter!”

4-H has several chances for recognition of success. It has a premier leadership event for older youth called Midwinter. There are senior achievement awards youth can apply for in their specific project areas. Winners of achievement awards receive a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with 4-H’ers from all over the nation to discuss 4-H and learn about government.

The 4-H Thriving Model shows through research that 4-H education has a lasting impact on young people. The positive youth development approach used by 4-H recognizes that all youth have interests and abilities that can be enhanced by participation in 4-H programs.

In Cullman, the 4-H leadership team consists of Roberts, County Extension Coordinator Kira Sims, Agent Assistant Roberta McClellan, Tech Changemakers Grant employee Alicia Self and Administrative Associate Beth Glasscock.

Said Roberts, “Even with the staff involved 4-H could not happen without volunteer leaders!”

Bobby Barrett is the Cullman 4-H Volunteer of the Year who has been nominated for a regional and state award.

“Bobby has been a continuous 4-H volunteer since 2007. His children were involved in every aspect of 4-H- shooting sports, community club, wildlife, public speaking, ambassadors. They bleed green. Even after his children aged out, he continued to allow 4-H to practice shotgun at his home range and serve as a coach whenever and wherever needed. Bobby exemplifies the qualities we strive to instill in our youth,” said Roberts.

The 4-H volunteer leaders are being honored Thursday, Sept. 8, with dinner at Camp Meadowbrook.

The best way to sign up to be a member of 4-H is to log onto www.v2.4honline.com and create a family account. School children will have paper forms filled out. For information on becoming a volunteer leader, email roberk5@auburn.edu.

Below are some fourth-grade 4-H club reporter assignments from last year reviewing their club experiences:

(contributed by Kerri Roberts)

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