September is the start of the new 4-H year; Ideal time for area youth to join 4-H

Just some of the many 4-H activities ... Pictured in the surrounding photos are some of the many activities Allamakee County 4-H members get to participate in throughout the year. Pictured above, left photo and right photo, are the Ag Olympics and Poultry Judging, respectively, at the Allamakee County Fair. Pictured below is a Visual Arts workshop. Submitted photos.

September 1 has marked the start of a new 4-H year and an ideal time for youth in fourth through 12th grades to join 4-H. Parents may wonder the value of enrolling their child in yet another organization, as they may already be in sports, music, dance, church groups, etc.

So, why have the parents of 236 youth in Allamakee County enroll their child in 4-H for the 2017-2018 4-H year? Allamakee County 4-H administrators and leaders offer the following:

4-H offers a learning experience that will benefit 4-H’ers for a lifetime. 4-H is more than cooking, sewing, hogs, cows and farming. 4-H is about empowering youth to reach their full potential through youth-adult partnerships and research-based experiences.

4-H offers youth an avenue to explore and pursue project areas. 4-H’ers learn to make choices, as youth choose the project they want to learn about and complete. If a 4-H’er wants to learn about cars, they can learn more about cars, while another 4-H’er is learning how to sew.

4-H is not about winning, it is about trying and learning.  All static fair exhibits, those in 4-H Exhibit Buildings, are judged on a process, or on what 4-H’ers learned while completing the project, not on comparison with other projects.

4-H does not expect perfection, it expects a willingness to learn and work.  4-H’ers learn that it is okay to fail at a project, as long as they figure out why it failed and fix it the next time.

4-H’ers learn by doing and having fun learning. A person can learn a lot more about birdhouses and birds by building a birdhouse and watching birds move into it, rather than by reading about the nesting habits of birds.

4-H’ers learn that the effort they put into their project is reflected in how much they will get out of it. A project done with little effort and in a few minutes will result in little learning and little personal satisfaction, but the project that they took hours to complete and that they really tried on, will be a masterpiece of personal accomplishment and pride.

4-H gives youth a chance to practice being a leader and being a contributing group member, before they go out into the “real” world and need to lead and work as a group.  4-H’ers can hold leadership roles in their clubs, such as historian, treasurer, secretary, vice-president and president. They can also join the Allamakee County Council when they are in high school, or even join the State 4-H Council.

4-H’ers meet new people and make new friends, and these friends don’t necessarily just live in the same local county. Some friends live all over the state of Iowa or even in other states.

4-H is a stepping stone for the future. Past 4-H’ers and 4-H parents have said that the reason why they have achieved so much in life is because of 4-H. The skills that they learned and the experiences that they had in 4-H led them to further their education and go into their chosen career.

4-H has been helping and teaching the youth of Iowa, the United States, and the world for the past 116 years.  We invite youth to join 4-H and learn why so many people agree that 4-H does “Make the Best Better.”

For those interested in joining 4-H, Allamakee County currently has 10 active 4-H clubs. Each 4-H club meets once a month. Some of the clubs meet in members’ homes and others meet in churches or community buildings. Most clubs meet on a weeknight, however, some meet Saturdays or Sundays.

Most 4-H clubs follow a set meeting schedule. The beginning of the meeting is a business meeting. They will discuss upcoming county activities and plan new club activities. A lunch or snack will be served during the meeting.  At each meeting, various 4-H’ers will give a presentation on a topic of their choice, providing a way to learn about different project areas. Some clubs choose a project area each year and spend a year focusing on various topics in that project.

During the year, 4-H’ers choose different project areas to learn about. There are 60 different project areas in 4-H ranging from Aerospace to Woodworking. 4-H’ers can work on animal projects, from large livestock such as beef, to small pets such as fish. 4-H’ers can learn about science and technology as well as various environmental areas. There really is a project area for everyone.

The Allamakee County Fair in July is a chance for 4-H’ers to show off their accomplishments. While learning about a project area, the 4-H’er can create an exhibit to display at the fair. The exhibits in the 4-H building and the animal barns show how much time and effort 4-H’ers have put into their project areas.

It is easy to become a 4-H member. Stop by the Allamakee County Extension Office at 218 Seventh Avenue SE, Suite #102 in Waukon or call 563-568-6345. Staff can provide a list of the Allamakee County 4-H Clubs and their leaders, as well as their meeting times.

Joining 4-H involves a commitment of time and energy, not only for the youth, but also for the parents.  However, 4-H is full of rewards and worth the time and energy spent.

Anyone who would like to know more about 4-H and the various 4-H programs available may contact Morgan Bjerke at the Allamakee County Extension Office at 563-568-6345 or at

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