Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. These are the four “Hs” that make up the 4-H Emblem. The 4-H club has a rich history in Arkansas and in Saline County. There are 807 4-H clubs established across the entire state of Arkansas and over 133,000 young members between the ages of five and 19 that make up those clubs. The mission of the 4-H club is to provide opportunities for youth to acquire knowledge, develop life skills, form attitudes, and practice behavior that will enable them to become self directing, productive, and contributing members of society. “Learning by doing” is what 4-H is all about.
According to uaex.com, “4-H is conducted in many forms, to include community clubs, special interest projects, in-school clubs, school enrichment, judging team and more. Youth learn leadership, communication skills, problem-solving, decision-making and life skills through a variety of projects with topics such as, nutrition, ATV safety, shooting sports, outdoor educations, aerospace, animal science, robotics, forestry, entrepreneurship, performing arts, citizenship, interior design, health and leadership.”
4-H is over a 100-year-old tradition in Arkansas that dates back to 1908 when a group of 65 boys formed White County Corn and Cotton Club as a means to learn the latest agricultural technology and spend time with friends. Over 100 years later, that translates into over 100,000 young people interacting and learning in the same ways those 65 young boys did back in the early 1900s. Administered by the University of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H is offered in all of the 75 counties across Arkansas.
There are twelve 4-H clubs in Saline County, according to Stephany Rogers, 4-H Program Assistant with the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture.
“We cover Shannon Hills to Haskell. Most of our clubs are community clubs (where they are involved on a generalized level in their community) with a few being special project clubs (Culinary Arts, Livestock, Vet Science, Shooting Sports, SOAR Outdoor). Our clubs try and give back to the community as much as they can,” Rogers said.
The clubs in Saline County are very involved in the community and conduct several projects every year that benefit the cities and towns in Saline County. A few of the local clubs go to nursing homes on a regular basis and interact with the residents by playing games, serving dessert, or singing Christmas carols. Teen Leaders, members of the 4-H club that are ages 12-19, have been multiple times to the Saline/Perry County CALL, Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime, Closet where they organize the clothing and swap out seasons.
“Our kids are always up to new community service and service learning opportunities. They realize how much of an impact it is to give back to their communities by donating their time and energy,” Rogers concluded.
The 4-H clubs in Saline County have an annual event coming up in August called Camp Cloverbud. This two day camp is for children ages 5-8 and the Teen Leaders of the 4-H clubs will be the camp counselors with the supervision of adults. The camp will be held August 6th and 7th from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM each day at Holland Chapel Baptist Church in Benton. The event will take place in their Life Center. The cost for the event is $30 per child which includes goodie bags, food, snacks, and all of the crafts and activities that are done at the camp. The theme of this year’s Camp Cloverbud is “80 Days Around the World.”
“We like to keep the kids moving around and staying busy, but we understand that the younger kids need break times. Being in the Life Center allows us to have a large space as well as a kitchen and classrooms. Also for the first time, the teen leaders have formed committees and are completely responsible for the almost everything. They are planning the games and initiatives as well as the food, marketing and décor,” Rogers said.
For more information on Camp Cloverbud, visit http://uaex.edu/counties/saline/ or find them on Facebook under Saline County 4-H.