There is nothing like hitting the ground running at the start of the New Year, and that seems to be the way this year is starting out here at the Lendennie homestead.
We spent the entire first week of the year getting the grandkids started on their new 4H projects. I know I have spoken about 4H in other columns, but it has become such an integral part of our lives that I will probably speak about this wonderful youth program often.
4H teaches life skills, as well as confidence, team building and goal setting. It offers children and young men and women opportunities to work in a positive way within their communities, and provides ways to earn money and even receive college funding. But as with all worthwhile programs, including scouting and FFA, if a parent, guardian or mentor is not willing to put in the time along with the child, nothing will be accomplished. If the parent/guardian is willing, the sky is the limit for the child.
Scott has been in the program the longest, and he is at the point in his home gardening where there is just a whole lot of record-keeping and advance planning involved. We spent about four hours over a period of two days making this year's garden plan, a two-year crop rotation plan, setting up a planting calendar based on frost dates, growing time, and when we need things to be ready to harvest in time to be shown at the Mississippi County Fair. We also had to do a little seed bed preparation and put some sets into the ground.
Leah got out her sewing machine and started experimenting with making little dresses for her Barbie dolls. She had some difficulty with her sewing machine, which Grandma could not solve. This will be something she will be discussing with her sewing instructor at the next 4H meeting.
And Amy conducted interviews and started a pet facts learning journal for her new project, pets. Amy is just starting out in 4H this year, but she is already leading the way in wanting to speak in front of audiences. She conducted the interviews herself, and remembered the information she got from her interviews. In a couple of years, we will be placing her in the Public Speaking block, which is one of the darling children of the 4H program and within which there are numerous chances for awards and scholarships.
Leah will be (hopefully) making part of the costume she will need when she reaches the point in her other project, Horses and Ponies, to be able to compete in a horse show. That is a new program here in Mississippi County, and we have high hopes for it. We also will be looking at something for her to make she can wear as an entry in the 4H Fashion Show.
And Scott will be putting together his second insect collection this year, hopefully bigger and with better specimens, since this year he is old enough to be eligible to take his collection to the District Fair in Jonesboro if he wins at the county level. At some time in the not too distant future, we will be switching to more crop and straight agriculture-related areas with Scott, who wants to go into agriculture as a career. 4H has a project for that.
And Scott spent most of one day braving the cold, doing target practice with his new Red Ryder BB gun he got for Christmas in preparation for the start of the 4H marksmanship and gun safety program which starts this month, another new program for Mississippi County. Amy will also be participating, but she is so little she will need to learn with a bb pistol, and will not be eligible for competition for a few years.
There are programs for just about any interest and aptitude level in the 4H program. And this is a great opportunity for those of you who really do want to spend quality time with your kids or grandkids, to help them set and then learn to work towards and achieve reasonable and educational goals that will help them become productive citizens later in life. The program is open to children ages 5 through 18. For more information about enrolling a child in the Mississippi County 4H program, call Extension Agent Torya Fields at 870-762-2075.