McCook 4-H Club does things a little different
LINCOLN, Neb. – Marti Siebrandt helped create a 4-H Club in 2002 to provide her children with fun, educational activities. She didn’t know then how long the club would last.
Now reaching its sixth year, the Prairie Pals 4-H Club is led by a group of volunteer parents who try to do something different with the club every year.
“I didn’t grow up in 4-H and the other moms didn’t either,” said Siebrandt, who is a registered dietitian and substitute teaches in McCook. “We wanted something our kids could do every month with others with the same values and interests.”
The club, usually made up of six to seven children, has a different theme each year. Siebrandt, whose children Megan, 11, and Kelsey, 13, are in the club, said so far the 4-H’ers responded best to the club’s pet animal theme in 2003-2004 and a celebration around the world theme in 2004-2005.
“I think it has been a really positive experience,” said Donna Kircher, 4-H aide for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Red Willow County. “It’s a small club, but I think they’ve enjoyed getting to know each other and doing things together.”
Five of the seven regularly attending members of the club have been going since the club’s conception. Prairie Pals meets once a month during the school year on planned dates to correspond with each member’s schedule.
“It’s nice that way because it allows us to be able to do things as a group,”
Siebrandt said. “And from what I gather from 4-H here, they tell me that what makes our club non-traditional is that we get together regularly and do things as a group.”
She said they teach skills, complete projects and incorporate a game or educational activity into the theme of every meeting. During the meetings following the animal pet motif, the 4-H’ers toured a local veterinarian’s office and a pet store, cooked doggie biscuits and wrote thank-you letters to local businesses that allowed them to take tours.
Prairie Pals also raised funds for the Humane Society in McCook by having a Move-A-Groove-Athon. Club members took pledges on how long they could move continuously and proceeds went to the Humane Society.
During the club’s 2004-2005 year, the 4-H’ers studied a world culture at each meeting. At meetings they made crafts and cooked food that represented that culture.
This year, Siebrandt said, the club’s focus will be “letting our light shine in the community.” Stemming from suggestions from club members, the focus for Prairie Pals in 2008-2009 will be service projects.
“We’ve noticed that there are a lot of things in the community that may need our attention,” Siebrandt said.
She said projects may include aiding those in assisted living or nursing homes with tasks and cleaning playgrounds.
The move toward community service projects goes along with what Siebrandt said is an increasing responsibility from the members of Prairie Pals.
“Our kids are just getting more aware of ways that they can impact our community,” Siebrand said.
She said though it will be more difficult as the 4-H’ers get older to schedule Prairie Pals meetings they all can attend, the 4-H’ers certainly have learned more about being responsible and mature from having been at them.
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