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4-H volunteers make a difference to youth program

Special to The PREVIEW

This past Tuesday evening, youth members of the Archuleta County 4-H Council (elected members of each 4-H club) served dinner to their adult volunteers to honor and thank them for their leadership and commitment.

Guided by Becky Jacobson, CSU 4-H coordinator, these youth leaders greeted their honored guests at the door, graciously served them a delicious taco dinner supplied by parents of club members, and presented each adult with a certificate of appreciation. The emcee for the evening was Jennifer Smith, 4-H Youth Council president, a junior at Pagosa Springs High School and a 4-H member since she was the age of 5. Jennifer, displaying the presentation skills learned through her years in 4-H, ran the show with confidence and grace as adult leaders were thanked individually for their many years of commitment to 4-H youth. How impressive it was to see these youth, leaders among their peers, engage with adults and gratefully acknowledge them for all they have received.

Listening to the names of each adult volunteer and their years of service to 4-H, I remembered stories that I had heard from new 4-H parents explaining why they were joining 4-H. More than one set of parents (and grandparents) explained that they wanted their kids to be around 4-H kids and be exposed to the positive experiences that 4-H offers. Some parents talked about how 4-H had changed their lives when they were young or how they had watched their own kids and grandkids, once shy and hesitant, become confident, poised teens ready to face the adult world.

Yes, the 4-H program does have a positive impact on our youth, but it isn’t just the program and its curriculum. Rather, it’s the adult volunteers who so generously give their time to lead clubs, teach projects and supervise and judge at the Fair. These are adults who are passionate about helping our youth, who have skills to share and the patience to teach them. They are individuals who give of their time because they understand and experience, week after week, that they do make a difference.

On Tuesday evening, Ken Jones, Bill Newell and Larry Baisdon were honored for their more than 10 years of leading the 4-H Sports Fishing program. Becky Jacobson had this to say about these three men as they leave their roles as project leaders to spend more time with family.

“4-H leaders give their time: they dedicate their hands, their hearts and their heads to our youth. They impart wisdom, love, knowledge and trust. The knowledge of fly tying and fly fishing has been shared with numerous 4-H members over the last few years by Ken, Bill and Larry. Most members begin with very little knowledge other than they enjoy fishing. Ken, Bill and Larry more than enjoy fishing; they are passionate about it. However, their passion has been contagious and as said by Dean Scott, ‘Everything I know about fly fishing, I learned from Ken, Bill and Larry — tying flies, casting, fishing techniques. They teach with patience and clear instruction. I still fly fish today and will continue to use what I learned throughout my life.’”

Ken, Bill and Larry have made a tremendous impact on the youth that have had the privilege and enjoyment of learning from these three men. Some of our adult leaders have spent over 18 years as volunteers while others are just beginning. All of you make a tremendous difference and your dedication and impact have not gone unnoticed. So, adult leaders, if you have ever wondered if your time has been well spent, please read the following quote from Jennifer Smith on how 4-H has impacted her life and please accept the sincere gratitude of our 4-H youth, the community and the Extension staff.

“The person I am today is because of the first steps I took out from behind my father’s legs at Cloverbuds. I have grown from that shy girl to the leader and committed person I am today. These qualities are things I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I strive to live by the 4-H motto ‘to make the best better’ and to pass that on to the youth of tomorrow. 4-H is my life and without it I don’t know where I would be today.”

Shred-it event

On Wednesday, May 14, from 4-6 p.m. in the downtown Citizens Bank parking lot, CSU Extension will be offering the first Community Shred-it Event. Bring a maximum of three boxes of paper per person to be shredded on site for only $5 per box. All profits go to supporting the 4-H program in Archuleta County.

Wildfire mitigation

Learn how to create a defensible space around your home, operate a chainsaw correctly and safely manage the oak brush around your home. To register for these free educational workshops or for more information, call the Extension office at 264-5931. Workshop dates and topics are as follows:

May 8 and June 19, 10 a.m.-noon: On-site Defensible Space Workshop. These on-site workshops will take you through the steps to create a wildfire defensible space around your home and structures. Two locations in Archuleta County will be identified as workshop sites.

May 29: 10 a.m.-noon: Chainsaw Safety, CSU Extension building, Archuleta County Fairgrounds. Operating a chain saw can be dangerous. Learn to operate this important tool safely and maintain it for optimum efficiency.

June 26: 10 a.m.-noon: On-site Oak Brush Management Workshop. Gambel oak is one of our most common and prolific shrubs. Learn how to manage this shrub for greater wildfire prevention. A location within the county will be identified for this hands-on training.

This story was posted on May 8, 2014.