Flagler County 4-H looking for volunteers to provide programs to more children.
The pink and white archery bow in Haley Stephenson's hands was pulled taught and aimed at the bullseye, before the 4-H Open House officially began on Thursday, Aug. 27.
“It's something she has interested in,” her dad Jay Stephenson said. “It's something that I grew up with and she wants to be like dad.”
The 10-year old isn't a newcomer to the Flagler County 4-H program. Last year she raised chickens.
“Miss Amy (Amy Hedstrom 4-H Youth Development Agent 1) told me about archery,” Haley said. “I really want to get accepted.”
There are no applications to get into any of the programs, but there are space limitations. Hedstrom was not only recruiting children to participate in 4-H clubs, she was recruiting adult volunteers.
“A lot of our clubs are moving toward having a waiting list,” Hedstrom said. “I talked with four or five potential volunteers at the open house.”
Volunteers are required to have background checks and then given up to a month of training. The materials, curriculum and resource support are provided.
“There are online training modules with basic 4-H,” Hedstrom said. “I keep in pretty good communication with my leaders. My job is to be a resource for the volunteers and make sure they have everything they need to be successful.”
Cathy Clayton, one of the leaders for the “We Love to Learn” club had a steady stream of girls, and some boys, interested in sewing and cooking.
“Last year they made dresses and we had a fashion show at Washington Oaks State Park,” Clayton said. “They also cooked the food for the program and the people who attended got to eat.”
The group also participated in the County Potato Project with two trips to the Hastings extension service to plant and then to harvest potatoes. The bounty became a community service project when the club decided to give the potatoes to a Bunnell food bank.
Heather Toriello and her daughter Jenna, 9, were one of many interested in Layton's information table.
“We've been here 12 years and this year we decided to come and see what it was all about,” Heather Toriello said. “We do home-schooling so we are always looking for new things.”
Many associate the 4-H club with animals, but information tables, even the Flagler County Fair and Youth Show table, had options for those who are unable to have farm animals.
Children can create a “Country Critter,” research about how they would care for a live animal and write an essay to be judged at the fair.
“We have exhibits in Cattlemen's Hall during the fair,” Vice President and Manager of the Fair Penny Buckles said. “They get judged and ribbons are awarded.”
Children who want to be around horses can sign up for the Horseless Horse club. They learn about caring for horses and take field trips to the Florida Agricultural Museum.
Lilah Blue,5, and Ariah Jade,3, also home-schooled by their mom Hollie Nguyen, who said the family would like to move to the midwest and one day have their own small farm.
“They can make friends and have more community interest,” Nguyen said. “We gave Lilah the choice between gymnastics and this and she chose 4-H.”
Hedstrom said she had 36 youth sign in for the open house, 24 of which had not been involved in 4-H before.
“A lot were interested in the archery and raising animals,” she said. “Last year there were 150 in Flagler 4-H. We have 3,000 in the school enrichment programs. We have the Tropicana Speech contest which is the bulk of that number, a contest for fourth to sixth grade students. Also, Eat for Health, and embryology where they incubate poultry in the classroom.”
Hedstrom knows she has the children's interest, now if she can just sign up some additional volunteers. For more information, go to florida4h.org or call Hedstrom at 437-7464.