This year Yip and Yap are officially 4-H Members of Kansas. Last year we went to meetings and activities but as for projects we just did a few fun things and put them into open class.
Since I was a ten year 4-H member as was DR and all our siblings, I was really excited yesterday to turn in their paperwork and start getting their first year of 4-H underway. 4-H is quite the tradition in our families and I want to keep it going.
But I quickly learned that Kansas 4-H and Indiana 4-H are VERY different. DR bases this solely on the fact that Indiana has Purdue Extension and Kansas has Kansas State Extension, thus Indiana MUST have a better 4-H program. I think poor DR is just a little tired of all the purple out here.
(Send Black and Gold right away!!)
1. First of all SW Kansas is so rural that 4-H enrollment is VERY low. In our county the total enrollment is about 80..or less. My goodness! In northern Indiana my county surely had at least a couple hundred 4-Hers...or more! And the Kansas State Fair is SMALL! It's smaller than our largest Indiana county fair in Elkhart (I'm pretty sure that's the largest). Wow. I never knew how spoiled I was to participate in such a wonderful state fair as Indiana puts on year after year. Sheesh, I'm getting homesick writing this post!
By the way...did you know that the state of Delaware is so small (only three counties) they don't even have county fairs. Nope, just the Delaware State Fair. While Illinois is so big there are two state fairs; one in the north and one in the south.
2. In Indiana if you are 7-9 years of age (roughly) you are in what used to be known as Mini 4-H, but that's been changed to Exploring 4-H where they do different activities to learn about different 4-H projects. Then when they turn 9 they can enroll in regular projects. In Kansas when a child is 7 they can sign up for 4-H and aren't limited by what projects they'd like to complete.
3. This year I've volunteered to be a Fine Arts Project Leader. Now, I had a bit of confusion with that title considering when I was in 4-H we didn't really have many project leaders apart from our club leaders. Oh, we had leaders for things like shooting sports, you know, something not everyone could necessarily do at their own home. Rather we met on a shooting range once a month to shoot..Kansas does this too. But Kansas, even in our little county, seems to have a leader for just about every project.
4. The third way 4-H is different is directly tied to number 3. Kansas 4-H doesn't have project books. As a former 4-H member I'm sure my jaw was hitting the floor when I found THAT out yesterday.
Me; "Well, then where do the kids find the requirements for each year's project?" I was thinking like Foods, first year cookies, second year muffins, third year quick breads, etc.
Extension Agent; "The kids can do anything they like as long as it is appropriate to their area of expertise. So, although a 15 year old and a 9 year old are both second year 4-Hers the 15 year old probably shouldn't be making cookies."
So I've come to the conclusion that because the enrollment is so low, there are more leaders who can give more individual time to 4-Hers who need project help and therefore don't necessarily need a book to teach them (and their parents) what they should be learning. That's my theory anyway.
After 24 hours to get over the lack of 4-H project books, I can kind of understand. One of the purposes of 4-H is to teach kids initiative for their own education and building of skills rather than merely just completing a project that will look like everyone else's. BUT...as a teacher, I still like the idea of having successive levels of skills built upon year after year AND personally...I loved my 4-H project books growing up. Sometimes, I could learn something from my books that Mom or Dad didn't have time to teach me. I suspect that had something to do with being the oldest of 7 and my parents not having time for much of anything!
Though I understand the lack of books....I am calling in some outside help and getting some project books from Indiana. I just think it might give the boys some guidance they might need....or not. We'll see.
4-H: Kansas vs. Indiana....very different.
Doesn't matter though because I truly believe that whatever state and whatever the differences, being part of 4-H is an amazing experience for all kids anywhere! The maturity and leadership skills 4-Hers gain is something our country needs more of.
To Make the Best Better.
In Kansas or Indiana...let's go!