Junior earns national spot in 4-H Congress
DAYTON – Not many 15-year-old girls are brave enough to wrestle a 1,300 -pound steer, or bully up a 125-pound ewe for that matter.
But Dayton High School sophomore Rebecca Clark has no fear.
As a member of the Arrowhead Livestock 4-H Club, it was her goal to raise a slaughter beef . The project begins with buying a small yearling steer, recording the weight and purchase price and beginning a journal to measure the animals growth.
In addition, Clark has to account for every hour spent with the animal, the cost of feed, supplements and veterinarian visits.
“I have learned so much over the past few years,” said Clark.
Last month, Clark was notified that she was one of 13 from the state to attend the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga. The past week, 4-Hers around the nation celebrated National 4-H Week.
Jill Tingey, 4-H program coordinator with Carson City-Storey Cooperative Extension, said in 1910, National Congress was started to bring kids from all across the country together to build individuals and citizenship skills.
“Through the years the focus has shifted to more of a focus on citizenship, but the congress focuses on the leadership,” she said. “It brings kids from all across the country and focuses,”
Clark said that it was an honor for her to be selected to attend the congress.
Selection starts at the local level, with a portfolio and biography. 4-Hers are than recommended to go forward or encouraged to wait a year or two.
“I decided that I was going to do this, and went and did it,” she said.
She is a member of several 4-H clubs: Horses, livestock and ski. She is also on the Dayton High School soccer and basketball team and runs track.
But 4-H isn’t for just a few individuals or youth. Ben Damonte Jr., former 4-H member and current co-leader of the Leg of Lamb/Side of Beef Club in Washoe County, sees a lot of changes occurring in 4-H, just in the past 20 to 30 years.
“Now there’s not as many ranch and farm kids. We’re getting more urban kids,” Damonte said.
This means meeting more often and providing more guidance because not all the parents have the background and knowledge needed to help their kids raise the animals. “We’re getting less and less agricultural as the town is growing and with development, but there’s actually a lot of agriculture still going on,”he said. Damonte sites the turf farms and nurseries that were not here before the burst in urban development.
And, the time commitment is often more difficult for kids now.
Damonte said, “When I was in 4-H, we had a lot more time to devote to projects, but now kids are busier. They have less time because they’re involved in other extra-curricular activities.”
Damonte is currently leading about 20 members who are choosing animals this month that they will raise and care for until they go to show and market next summer. The kids, ranging from ages 9 to 17, will learn how to feed and care for their animals and even administer medications. They’ll learn parts of the animal and cuts of meat, and that “they are producer and consumer, and they need to provide a quality product,” Damonte explains.
However, Tingey points out that 4-H is not just livestock and agriculture clubs any more.
“As we enter the new millennium, 4-H has a wide array of clubs that fulfill the interests of today’s youth. This includes not only the more traditional livestock and horse clubs, but also some nontraditional clubs such as dog clubs, rocketry clubs, theater arts clubs and even home arts clubs which teach about fashion, decorating and cooking, for example.”
With almost 6,000 youth participating in 4-H throughout the state, Cooperative Extension prepares to enter the new millennium, continuing its mission: “to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable boys and girls to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society.”
There are 12 clubs in the Carson City-Storey region that range from home arts to fashion and small animals to livestock.