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Information sessions on joining 4-H planned

LOCKPORT – Are you interested in joining 4-H as a member, volunteer or leader? The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County will hold two informational meetings at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday to answer questions about the many programs it offers through 4-H.

The meetings are planned for the administration building’s board room at the CCE complex, 4487 Lake Ave.

Last year, there were more than 300 4-H members enrolled, ages 5 through 18, from throughout Niagara County. The organization also included more than 100 adult volunteers, according to Heidi Feltz, the extension’s 4-H resource educator.

While some have long identified animal-related activities with 4-H, Feltz pointed out that 4-H appeals to people with a wide variety of interests.

“For example, we just started shooting sports up here again, by offering archery in the past year,” she said, adding that firearms are also included in this category.

“We offer clubs or classes on nature, the environment, textiles and clothing, photography, writing, cooking, woodworking, gardening and horticulture, public speaking – a number of different things.

“And we’d like to get robotics started, because there are 4-H contests set up for robotics across the state,” she added.

The information session will cover a brief history of 4-H, as well as an explanation of what it stands for today, along with how to join, she said.

“4-H can be whatever you and your children are interested in,” she said.

Feltz said the extension encourages parents – and others in the community who might like to lend their expertise – to get involved.

“A lot of parents will stay and watch their children participate and they just want to do something with their kids, so they will get involved, too,” she said.

She added that there are competitions offered throughout the year, across the state, for participants to test their newfound knowledge.

“The Niagara County Fair is really the culmination of the 4-H year for us,” she said. “It’s kind of like our Olympics.”

Participation in clubs or classes is based on the children’s desires.

Some clubs might meet once or twice a month, for example, and some meet at the extension headquarters in Lockport, while others might meet in members’ homes.

And adults participation in not limited to being leaders – volunteers are needed in a number of capacities, including as judges in various competitions, Feltz said.

But they are always looking for adults to share their areas of expertise.

“We need people to offer classes in arts and crafts, for example,” she said.

“Someone might be afraid to start a class, and not know what to do, but we help them along. You can always start slow and add on, as you gain more knowledge.”

Nationally, 4-H has grown from its beginnings in the early 1900s into a community of 6 million young people across the U.S., learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. 4-Hers participate in fun, hands-on learning activities, supported by the latest research of land-grant universities. New York State’s land-grant university is Cornell University in Ithaca. 4-H is represented by a green four-leaf clover with a white H on each leaf, to stand for “head, heart, hands and health.”

Enrollment cost for the Niagara County 4-H Program is $10 a year, with additional project fees.

Adult volunteers register for free. 4-H enrollment starts in October of each year, but new members may enroll at any time and receive a newsletter listing classes and clubs with their registration. This information is also available by visiting: www.CCENiagaraCounty.org.

Those interested in attending one of the 4-H informational meetings are asked to register by contacting Feltz at 433-8839, Ext. 241 or at hmk3@cornell.edu. She also urges people to contact her if unable to attend Thursday’s meetings, but interested in learning more.