How animals, leadership, discipline, and fun, come together to build DHS students into the next generation of 4-Her’s.
By Bailey Welshans
While DHS isn’t widely known for having a lot of students involved in agriculture anymore, its roots continue to run deep. If there is a student who is very interested in animals or crops, they are most likely involved in a program called 4-H. Many believe that 4-H is just for showing animals, but that isn’t true at all.
Youth involved in 4-H do activities such as sewing, painting, photography, archery, woodworking, gardening, leadership activities, and so much more. If you have an interest in it, 4-H has a category for it. That is the great thing about 4-H — kids from different backgrounds and with different interests, come together to do what they love.
“Still projects allow learning of life skills in the same way teen leadership, or large animal projects do,” said Sheri Montoye, 4-H program coordinator and still projects superintendent. “Responsibility to plan out and complete your project, leadership in teaching younger youth skills you have learned, and ability to work with adults.”
4-H is the largest youth development program in the United States with more than six million participants. The program encourages positive growth in the aspects of science, arts and crafts, agriculture, leadership, and citizenship. 4-H is a place where youth ages 5-19 come together to do things they love and explore new things they’re interested in.
Throughout Washtenaw County, there are about 50 4-H clubs, with roughly 800 members and 200 registered volunteers.
You may be wondering, what does 4-H even stand for? 4-Her’s live by a pledge that helps them commit to something bigger than themselves and it involves four H’s. They stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.
Although 4-H has over 6 million participants, at DHS there are only about 25 students involved. Within those students, every animal project area is covered, and many do other projects as well.
One of the highlights of 4-H is the fair that happens every summer at the end of July. Youth get to exhibit the project(s) they’ve been working on for the whole year and have the chance to get an award for it.
Junior Jason Milkey has been in 4-H for 10 years and has shown sheep and goats since the beginning.
“4-H is a place to make friends and do things with people who share similar interests as you,” Milkey said. “Just knowing you spent time to make or raise something that hundreds of people will see, and then be judged on it, is really rewarding.”
Horses are also a large part of 4-H. There are many students involved at DHS show horses throughout the year, but also during the fair! Sophomore Abby Morris has shown horses since she was five.
“Horses take a lot of work; the bond between you and a horse has to be strong for the horse to trust you and to cooperate well with you,” Morris said. According to Morris, horses are one of the harder projects to do because of the amount of work prior to the fair that is put in.
Something big that 4-H gives you is responsibility and discipline. Taking care of an animal or doing a project takes time and you have to be dedicated to that project to do well.
Sophomore Lake VanNatter has been in 4-H for 7 years and shows sheep, but also has rabbits. She agrees that 4-H has given her a lot of opportunities to gain skills she will use for the rest of her life and she has made a lot of friends throughout the years.
“I’ve learned a lot of responsibility because raising an animal for a whole year is a hard thing to do,” VanNatter said. “It’s given me a chance to meet new people who do the same thing as me.”
If you are interested in getting involved in 4-H, you’re about to enter a whole new adventure.