Gray County 4H fall season enrollment has started


Swine Project 2019 – Showing swine at the County Livestock Show. (Gray County Agrilife Extension Photo)
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Miranda Ellis

Gray County 4H is now doing open enrollment for the fall season.

“Really we have open enrollment all year round, but September is technically when our 4H year starts and when we start all of our fall projects- so this is the prefect time to enroll,” Joan Soria of Gray County Agrilife said. 

“Our open enrollment started Sept. 1 and it is $25 to join. You can go online to do that at www.4honline.com and then select ‘Texas.’ If you’ve never enrolled before, you would need to create a family profile. If you’ve enrolled before, you can just log back in and renew your membership.”

The program is an affordable way to teach your child homesteading and life skills that are not taught in the classroom. These skills include raising and showing livestock, sewing, cooking, public speaking, archery, personal budgeting and more. 

“One of the things that we’ve got on the calendar this month is our foods and nutrition project. That’s for kids that are in third grade through 12th grade. We’ve got a group of ladies coming in on Thursday evenings to teach third through eighth-graders; they’re learning about nutrition, preparation, food safety and there’s a little etiquette that’s thrown in too,” Soria said. 

“Our high school youth will be starting on Monday the 14th. We have our district contest that will occur at the end of October, and at that they will be able to go and showcase the skills that they have learned in this eight-week period.” 

“They’ll be asked to demonstrate how to correctly measure a dry ingredient or how to correctly measure a liquid ingredient, or it may be that we have a set of knives and they have to demonstrate knife safety as well as which to use in order to do a particular job.”

There are several other projects coming up for 4H youth to look forward to, as well.  

“We also will be starting rabbits on Sept. 26. It’s a great small-animal project for those families who want to be involved in one of the animal projects, but they can’t afford one of the larger show animals. Rabbits can be a fairly inexpensive animal project,” Soria said.  

“We’ve got one young lady that’s been in the (rabbit) project that has traveled all over Texas and the surrounding states. She even went to Arizona and served on a board out there with a rabbit project, so there’s lots of opportunities to either keep it local or to expand it to a national level in that particular project.”

Soria says that the photography, robotics and archery projects are expected to kick off in October.

“Photography is where they’re going to learn the function of the camera and how to take pictures from certain viewpoints.” 

“Our robotics is part of our STEM program. The youth come in and actually will build their robot with a Lego set that was donated by Cable One. They provided us with the grant monies in order to buy our robots. They will build it and then they will learn to program it to get the robots to do certain things so that they can take that to contest.”

“At the contest, they’ll be required to do certain actions and activities with a robot, whether it is to pick up a ball and put it into a cup or to go through the maze,” Soria said.  

“We also have a really good archery group going on right now. In fact, our coach is one of the USA archery coaches. We’ve got some teeth in this and we’ve got some people that take it seriously. They typically meet twice a month.”

We didn’t get to go to state archery this year, but we actually had four shoot at our state archery contest two years ago. One of the little girls placed first and one young man placed fifth,” Soria said.

Soria says that now is the time to purchase goats, lambs and pigs for the large animal projects. 

“Then, of course, we’ve got our big animal projects. Those that are interested in showing goats and lambs need to be purchasing those now, and they’ve got another month to get their pigs if they want to do a swine project. If they wanted steers, those have to have been purchased already, but they can still get their heifers if they’re looking at doing a big animal project.”

“We also have a horse project that meets around the calendar year,” she said.

Gray County 4H also has two major fundraisers that the children do annually to help pay for the cost of materials for projects, registration fees for contests and more. 

“We have two fundraisers a year, which are the pecan sales in the fall and the geraniums in the spring. We use the money that we raise to operate off of for the year. And now, Tractor Supply has partnered with us on a nationwide basis. We usually have very successful clover campaigns here,” Soria said.

“The money that we raise is what pays our youth registration fees to contests. It’s what pays for the project supplies for the different project meetings, it pays for the awards that we present to our youth, and our general operating of the 4H program. For instance, we’ve got a show trailer for our kids to be able to transport animals in, but we’ve got to pay insurance with that. So, part of the money that we make helps pay for insurance. Those would be the type of operating expenses that we’ve got.”

“I think the important thing is all that money stays right here.”

Gray County 4H is also looking for more volunteers. 

“We’re always looking for volunteers, people who want to provide time and help teach young people life skills that they can carry on into adulthood. In order to be a volunteer, they’d need to call and visit with us about what they would like to volunteer with. There’s projects that we have going on that we need volunteers for. And then if somebody’s got a great idea and there’s few kids that want to do it, we can start a new project in an area.”

“They (prospective volunteers) would need to go through our nationwide background check, as well so they go through enrollment and then we do a national wide. We take the safety of the youth real seriously so that our kids are safe when they’re with our adult volunteers. There’s several trainings that they have to do in order to volunteer, but it’s it’s really rewarding and worthwhile,” Soria said. 

If you are interested in signing your child up with Gray County 4H or to see what other projects are available to the children throughout the year, you can go online to www.4honline.com. If you have any questions or concerns, you can call Gray County Agrilife Extension 806-669-8033.

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