South Dakota 4-H enrollment continues to climb

South Dakota 4-H enrollment continues to climb
The South Dakota 4-H program continued to increase its membership during the past year, adding more than 500 members statewide in 2006. This marks the fourth straight year of increase in 4-H club enrollment since 2002, said SDSU Extension Youth Development/4-H Specialist Kathryn Reeves.

South Dakota 4-H enrollment in 2006 stood at 10,501, Reeves said, compared to 9,977 in 2005. South Dakota 4-H enrollment has increased steadily since 2002, when it stood at 8,092.

"Adding new kinds of 4-H clubs to the mix, including 4-H afterschool clubs, has provided part of the boost, but renewed efforts by 4-H club members to promote their own program have also made a difference," Reeves said.


Reeves said that 4-H continues to thrive in rural communities across the state, but there's been a definite swell in youth participation in suburban and city locations, as well. She noted that the state's eight largest counties in terms of population have seen 4-H membership grow by 26.3 percent since 2002.

"More highly populated counties with large membership increases are Brookings, Codington, and Minnehaha," Reeves said. Brown, Lawrence, and Pennington counties did not see large increases, but enrollments have either remained steady or increased slightly.

New and exciting project areas may be responsible for added interest, Reeves noted. Robotics and GPS/GIS units have attracted much attention during regional workshops, while widely accessible projects like cats, small animals and communication arts have enjoyed an increased number of enrollments.

"Continued high numbers in staple projects such as foods, visual arts, photography and shooting sports prove that even after 100 years, 4-H still has the ability to adjust its programming to the needs of an ever-changing population," Reeves said.

The top 10 South Dakota 4-H projects by enrollment numbers are Foods & Nutrition, with 5,218 4-H members enrolled; Visual Arts, 4,062 members enrolled; Photography & Video, 2,656; Home Environment, 2,528; Community Service, 2,480; Shooting Sports, 2,383; Horse & Pony, 2,369; Clothing & Textiles, 2,320; Discovering 4-H, 2,181; and Beef 1,916.

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