MOUNDRIDGE — Audrey Seeger, said there never any doubt she wanted her children to be involved in 4-H.
“I was a 4-Her as a kid,” Seeger said. “I think the kids get so much out of it — so many life skills — and there’s so much value in the diversity of opportunities and projects that 4-H can provide for them.”
For this past five years, the Seegers have been members of the Golden Opportunity 4-H Club, which has around 20 total members.
“The club had a lot of different projects go to the state fair,” Seeger said.
Seeger’s youngest child, 8-year old Joshua, is involved in geology and wildlife projects through 4-H, but will have to wait until next year to be old enough to submit entries to the Kansas State Fair.
This is 9-year-old Matthew’s first year to enter projects — an etymology display and a wildlife display about bobcats — at the state fair. He earned a red ribbon for his insect project and a purple for the bobcat display.
Matthew also tackled a demonstration, a public speaking event where the 4-Her shows a step-by-step process of how to do something.
“They choose the topic,” Seeger explained. “It’s usually about something they have learned to do in one of their 4-H projects.”
Matthew chose talk about how to make birdseed ornaments by mixing together gelatin, flour, water and birdseed.
“He takes them outside and hangs them on our trees and watches the birds,” Seeger said.
Though the 4-H members have months to practice their demonstrations, taking them to the state fair means performing in a large space where not everyone in the crowd will be paying attention.
“That makes it a little more challenging,” Seeger said.
“I wasn’t very nervous. I practiced it a lot, so I wasn’t worried that I’d forget how to do it. I was a little nervous about making sure I had everything set up right, though,” Matthew said.
Many of the 4-H members practice public speaking in their meetings, where an atmosphere of support and respect is evident, Seeger said.
“I think that’s the great thing about 4-H,” Seeger said. “It’s a very encouraging environment. ...Even school can be intimidating. 4-H is very friendly.”
Both Matthew and his sister, 11-year-old Ellie, were given the option to use a microphone in their demonstrations at the state fair. Both declined — and both earned purple ribbons.
Ellie’s interests include fashion and sewing. Her demonstration, “Press to Impress,” detailed how to iron a shirt. She also made an educational poster about using a serger and entered a dress she made herself. All of her entries earned purple ribbons.
Seeger said Ellie learned her sewing skills from others in Moundridge who were willing to iteach her.
“It’s been awesome that we could find some good connections within our community,” Seeger said.”We just have so many wonderful, knowledgable people around that are so helpful.”
When their work at the state fair is done, the Seeger children like to grab an ice cream cone or funnel cake and walk around to see other exhibits.
“It’s just fun to see what other 4-Hers are doing in their projects,” Ellie said. “I like to look for my friends’ exhibits.”
“I liked looking at all of the other exhibits,” Matthew said. “I really liked seeing the big insect collections. I hope to have that many insects in my collection one day.”
One of the benefits of 4-H is that both boys and girls can be involved and choose projects from a wide range of activities.
“You get choose what interests you. I like the clothing construction project. My brothers like entomology and geology and wildlife,” Ellie said. “There are a lot of different projects and you can try new projects if you see something you want to learn more about.”
You can learn more about 4-H by contacting one of the local club leaders or by calling the extension office at 620-241-1523.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.