By Toni W. Riley
If a family is looking for new, exciting and fun activities for children or a rewarding volunteer experience, Christian County 4-H has a variety of opportunities for military youth and adults on and off Fort Campbell.
4-H, the youth branch of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension service, has a long been thought of as a program that is “just for farm kids,” but not any more. 4-H agents have kept up with the times and have modified programs to meet the needs of today’s youth.
Fort Campbell 4-H offers four community clubs led by volunteer leaders. The Blue Oaks Community Club, Cloverbud Club for children 5 to 9 years old, a culinary club and a robotics club, which meet on alternate Mondays at 5 p.m. at the Readiness Center.
Christian County 4-H Youth Development Agent Kendriana Price takes the lead in Fort Campbell programming. Price is very familiar with Army life, having grown up on several different Army bases.
Price notes that while these clubs are volunteer led, the clubs are fluid with families who are coming and going to new posts.
Price sadly noted that a large portion of the club and volunteers moved to other installations this summer. She along with coworkers Matt Futrell and Kaitlyne Metsker keep the clubs going while new volunteers are recruited.
Futrell noted that for the first time, the robotics club competed in the state level Lego Robotics, and the culinary club had teenage members who represented the county in the 4-H Culinary Challenge, a 4-H version of “Top Chef.”
Price said the excitement from families who became part of 4-H carried over to other families and club members.
“The club entered tons of projects in the fair,” Price noted. Several of the projects represented Christian County at the Kentucky State Fair. An origami cobra is one that was in contention for state-level recognition.
A growing number of military families have found there are many opportunities for their children outside Fort Campbell and have become active in the countywide 4-H program.
The 4-H agents discussed how they have had military leaders and parents attend the Kentucky 4-H Volunteer Forum, which is every two years in Lexington. The next Kentucky 4-H Volunteer Forum will be Feb. 7-11, 2018.
“This gives them a chance to see all the things that 4-H offers,” Price said.
The organization of a county 4-H Dog Club is an outgrowth of a parent attending the forum. Metsker laughed when she remembered how the parent came to her at the forum and said, “We need to do this.” That parent is now the leader of the dog club.
Military youth are also members of the County Shooting Sports Club and parents are certified Shooting Sports volunteers, and half of the campers who attended 4-H Camp were military. Another group of Fort Campbell youth attended 4-H Aerospace Camp.
Teen members from Fort Campbell have attended the Issues Conference, and one member was selected from the entire Issues delegation to serve on the next year’s planning committee.
Fort Campbell youth can also be involved in 4-H through Fort Campbell Child & Youth Services.
CYS employee Beatrice Hawkins serves as a 4-H liaison and is specifically tasked to coordinate CYS 4-H. Hawkins has become active in the countywide 4-H and extension program. She serves as the vice president of the 4-H Council and became an extension master gardener.
One of her goals is to have Junior Master Gardener Clubs at Fort Campbell.
If you or your family would like to get involved in 4-H, check out the “Christian County 4-H” Facebook page or contact one of the agents.