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Learning Tenets of 4-H Is a Growth Experience for Kids and Their Animals

April 09, 1998|JUDITH A. WILLIS

Farm animals as pets may be a new experience to your family, but children have been involved in animal husbandry through 4-H Clubs for decades. 4-H is a national youth development organization that provides opportunities for nontraditional education for youth from kindergarten through age 19.

The two 4-H clubs in the San Fernando Valley have been organized to teach children and teens the 4-H ideals of head, heart, hands and health. It is the only publicly funded youth program in the United States.

The state program is sponsored by the University of California. It has progressed significantly from its first projects in corn and canning, offering such diverse programs as astronomy, marine biology, quilting, horticulture and photography.

The emphasis is not recreation but hands-on education.

The 4-H Rabbit Program teaches care, feeding and management of rabbits raised for pets, market, fur, showing or breeding. The poultry and game birds are raised as part of avian science. Members learn about the care and management of birds raised for pets, egg production, meat, for home use or market and for breeding or showing.

Mary Robbins, leader of several projects at the Eastside Kids 4-H Club, is also past president of the San Fernando Valley District 4-H Council. The Eastside Club has between 20 and 25 members involved in projects including breeding, caring for and showing rabbits, sheep and dairy goats.

Robbins is particularly impressed with the individual growth she sees in a child during the years of 4-H participation.

"When the children participate fully in all the activities, personal growth is incredible," she said. "They learn how to make presentations in front of groups. This teaches them to research their subject, organize their thoughts, and if mistakes are made, how to recover with poise."

Some projects of the Eastside Kids and the other Valley club, Country Bumpkins, may be viewed at the San Fernando Valley Fair at the Burbank Equestrian Center June 4-7.


Learn more--Contact the Los Angeles County Office for 4-H Clubs at (213) 838-8322 to be put in touch with the closest club or for help starting your own.

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