You may have heard of the Wein Wildcats or maybe the Rib View Ramblers. They're just two of the more than 30 4H clubs here in Marathon County and they draw some 1,200 youth each year.
Jean Berger, the 4H Youth Development Agent said, "They participate through community clubs in towns like Edgar or Wausau or Birnamwood and then we also have some 4H summer clubs where some people enroll in that as well." 4H is an educational youth program designed to teach these young people life skills includes ethics, taking leadership and learning to be a team player.
"When young people participate in a 4H club, they run for officer roles as they get older, so it's a youth run club with the help of adult advisers, but they're learning those leadership skills as well, how to lead a group, how to run a committee, how to take minutes or keep track of the treasury," said Berger.
Kids also work on projects and activities throughout the year related to agriculture, the arts, food and even nutrition. The big celebration of the year is the Wisconsin Valley Fair, where 4H kids show off their hard work and it's not just livestock, they show quilts, cakes and other projects too. She said, "At the fair, young people are coming together to be judged by qualified judges on how well they accomplished that project, that activity, or leaned a skill and then they're publicly showing it to the rest of the community to help others learn from their experiences."
You don't have to live on a farm to be in 4H either. You can join 4H as early as kindergarten and stay in it until one year after you graduate high school. "It's really fun, you get to do all kinds of projects that you might not have an opportunity to do without the 4H program," she said.
It's a life-changing experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life even after you're no longer in the program. "I think it's really important to know people are learning skills that can help them in their careers, can help them manage their homes, and help them manage their finances."
The clubs wouldn't be possible with the help of the more than 400 volunteers in the county. If you're interested in joining 4H or volunteering, just contact your local 4H office. They'll find you a club or if you know a club, she said just show up.