Elkins Rotary learns about 4-H

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Amanda Johnson, Randolph County extension agent, speaks to the Rotary Club of Elkins on Monday about 4-H offerings.

ELKINS — On Monday afternoon, the Rotary Club of Elkins heard about an organization that has offered hands-on learning opportunities for area youth for a number of years.

Amanda Johnson, a WVU Extension Service Randolph County extension agent, told Rotarians about 4-H camp and how the extension service works to provide scholarships for students who need additional assistance with funding for camp.

Through clubs, camps and school enrichment programs, students in Randolph County have the opportunity to learn many skills.

“We focus on providing kids hands-on learning in the areas of science, healthy living and food,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to inspire our scientists and our leaders while they’re young.”

Johnson said 4-H reaches seven million youths across the United States. Locally, there are 13 4-H clubs, 167 members and 28 Cloverbuds.

“With that, 63 of our kids keep livestock projects, so if you come out to the Randolph County Fair and see those kids, you may see 63 kids, but they take over 80 animals because several of the kids take multiple animals,” Johnson said.

Anyone between the ages of 9 and 21 can join 4-H. In addition, children between the ages of 5 and 8 can join Cloverbuds. Johnson explained Cloverbuds cannot take part in competition or stay over night at camp, but they are able to experience club meetings and take part in day camps.

“We focus on a wide range of leadership opportunities for these youth,” Johnson said.

4-H offers both residential and day camps that give students a chance to take part in hands-on learning that Johnson said allows them a chance to “get dirty.”

“4-H’ers are three times more likely to be active and volunteer in their community,” Johnson said. “They are also two times more likely to do better in school and report high school engagement.”

In addition, Johnson noted club members are often two times more likely to participate in science and technology activities.

There are 103 volunteers in Randolph County that help to make the program successful, Johnson said.

Scholarships are made available to students who wish to attend week long camps. In 2016, 16 campers who requested assistance received full scholarships.

“Sometimes we are able to take one scholarship donation and split it between multiple kids,” Johnson said.

The Rotary Club of Elkins made a donation to the 4-H scholarship program during Monday’s meeting.