The Kennedy Report By Will Kennedy
Clay County Extension Educator/ 4-H / YD Mother Nature threw a wrench in the schedules of 4-H programs in Clay County recently but we still managed several meetings for both the youth and educators. One night saw three groups holding their monthly gatherings at the Clay County Extension Office. It made for a full house and a busy evening for me as I tried to stop in to meet everyone. The temperatures were low, but spirits were high as the three different groups assembled. The state is broken down into Field Education Units (FEUâ�?�?s) which normally consist of three counties. Clay, Union and Yankton are designated as SE2. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the volunteers/ leaders in these counties. These individuals take time out of their busy schedules to provide positive role models for our youth. The 4-H program could not operate with out these volunteers and I would like to personally thank them for all they do. Their spirit of selflessness was very apparent on Thursday evening when we had such a full house. The leaders not only showed up despite the bitter cold but provided high quality, educational activities to club members. The impact of South Dakota Cooperative Extension, Clay County and these outstanding volunteers was clear that evening as I spent time with each organization. The 4-H Center was occupied by the Dog Club. The cheers could be heard throughout the building as the club leader Margaret Williams helped the youth and their dogs achieve new skills. The 4-H Center kitchen was full of activity as the Burbank Feeders worked on entries for Achievement Days. This is a very young club but their enthusiasm was high and we can expect big things from them. The Meckling Livestock club meeting was held in the office area and they crafted Valentines Day cards for veterans in the community. This club had five youth lined up for public speaking, covering topics from the history of the Salvation Army to fitting a lamb for show. Speaking in front of a group can be very imposing and I tip my hat to the club leaders for their good work in promoting this very important area. To all our volunteers, thank you for all you have done and all you continue to do. With the start of 2009 I see opportunities for 4-Hers to not only continue the good work they have been doing but also to branch out into new areas. One area that is often overlooked is public speaking. Itâ�?�?s understandable, getting up in front of a group can be a difficult thing to master. Public speaking is a skill that you will be called on to use countless times throughout life. Anywhere your life takes you, the ability to communicate in a clear, understandable way will prove invaluable. I will talk more about this when I visit the area 4-H clubâ�?�?s monthly meetings. Iâ�?�?d also like to see more interaction between project areas. Letâ�?�?s always try and keep our minds open to trying new things. One sentiment often voiced is â�?�?I just donâ�?�?t know anything about that.â�? Life is a learning process and luckily for us Clay County has a strong group of leaders who can teach you about everything from sheep judging to photography. Another area that I will be placing a large emphasis is the rebuilding of our Junior Leaders group. We had our first meeting on Jan. 2. Attendance was low, which I hope is due to the holiday break. I look forward to seeing many more in attendance at our next meeting. That being said I would like to compliment those that did attend. They were enthusiastic and willing to put forth several good ideas on what they were looking for from their time as Junior Leaders. Alison Buckman, fair board manager, stopped in during the meeting and we discussed ways that we could help the Fair Board as well as promote 4-H during the 2009 Achievement Days. I look forward to this group being the spearhead of 4-Hâ�?�?s resurgence in Clay County. As always, feel free to call, email or stop by the Extension Office with any questions or concerns.