DAMASCUS – Wayne County 4-H clubs are getting ready to celebrate Pennsylvania 4-H Week, which takes place March 13-19.

Among them is the Tri-Gal 4-H club. It is one of 18 clubs in Wayne County.

The programs are run through the Penn State Extension.

“As of 2015 we have 316 members and almost 100 4-H volunteers,” said Jessica Scull, 4-H extension coordinator for the Penn State Extension.

“We have one of the largest 4-H programs in the state. They're very active.”

She added the county has “great leaders and great kids.”

“[PA] 4-H week is a wonderful time to see what 4-H is all about,” added Melissa Rutledge, do-director of the dairy promoters.

“There really are projects for every interest and screened volunteers who are ready to help the youth explore those interests further.”

History

The 4-H program was started by O.H. Benson in 1900 in Iowa.

After learning many students would be leaving their family farms, he wanted to create a program that could show them advantages of rural life.

According to the Pennsylvania 4-H, the program is thought to have started in Mercer County by Charles H. McBride, extension agent.

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed by Congress that provided federal and state funds for agricultural colleges.

Awareness

Scull said during PA 4-H Week, 4-H members and leaders are asked to promote the program and put posters in local businesses and schools to help spread awareness of the program.

“For the most part they are promoting 4-H, but there are a few clubs doing specific 4-H community services,” she stated.

The 4-H program year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 each year. During the 2015 year there were 4,000 hours of community service completed in Wayne County.

Scull said they collect data each year about clubs on items such as events they've done, fundraising and what they spend on completed projects.

“It was one of the most outstanding community service program years,” she stated.

“There is a tremendous impact kids have on the county. Community service projects are one of the things we prides ourselves on.”

Scull added the 4-H program is important to the area and is beneficial to 4-H members.

“There are almost 300 kids involved who are doing 4,000 hours of community service,” she explained.

“We need to keep them focused and driven with some sort of responsibility.”

Learning potential

She added there are various skills 4-H members learn such as communication with other members of the community and leadership skills.

“Responsibility is a huge part of 4-H,” Scull said.

“One of my biggest things is...when you start a project you need to finish it. A big part is learning responsibility.”

During the 2015 program year there were 700 projects completed in Wayne County.

“That's an 84 percent project completion rate,” Scull said. “It shows the dedication a lot of kids have toward the program.”

Taking part

Scull stated the open enrollment for new members is taking place now. Eligibility is for kids ages five through 18 as of Jan. 1.

The deadline to enroll is June 1. This is also the last day to enroll in order to exhibit at the Wayne County Fair.