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Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Rebecca Skretkowicz helps 6-year-old Dane add soil to his marigold bag.

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Mary and Phil Lyford helps neighbors Queen, center left, and Roxy, center right, create a marigold plant pack Thursday during a 4-H recruitment night at the Amsterdam Free Library.

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Melanie Efaw helps 5-year-old Caelan with his soil Thursday evening.

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Local 4-H program tries to spark interest in city

Friday, May 10, 2013 - Updated: 3:29 PM

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

A small group of parents and children gathered in the Amsterdam Free Library Thursday evening to learn more about the Cornell Cooperative Extension's 4-H program.

Led by Linda Wegner, 4-H Youth Development Program Leader for CCE of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, the recruitment evening gave children and adults a chance to participate in a small project together and then hear how to become involved.

Wegner called the project a "pillow plant," where the adult-child teams packed moistened soil into plastic sandwich bags, poked holes in them, and added marigold seeds to the holes. It was something for them to take home.

"I was pleased," Wegner said of the turnout, adding that the Amsterdam recruitment night was the largest one they had for this spring's "Grow the 4-H" recruitment nights. "We're trying to look at different options for people because people's lives are different now of what they need to do and commit to. We just don't have the clubs right now."

That was one of the purposes of the recruitment night, to encourage more adults to become club leaders.

Three adults at the Thursday meeting seemed interested in helping in some way to grow the program, including Amanda Mahar, a Fort Hunter resident.

"I wanted to get more involved with volunteering, but right now not having my own child I wouldn't be able to start a group," she said after the evening ended. "But, I do have a lot of friends with kids and my little cousin comes up in the summer and I'm always trying to find things for her to do so I'm just trying to get some more information on 4-H."

It would be good to see more organization of these 4-H clubs, she said, "especially because there's not one around here and there seems to be a bunch of kids who want to be involved with it."

Hoping to start a club sometime this year is Rebecca Skretkowicz, a resident of Broadalbin who went to the recruitment night with her 4-year-old son Dane.

"Dane had wanted to participate in 4-H since last September at the fair so we decided to come out," she said.

But another reason she is hoping to get him involved is because 4-H is part of her upbringing. Skretkowicz was a member of 4-H from the time she was 5 or 6 years old right up until she was 19.

"It was fun. It was a social activity that we could participate in but it was also educational. I had a blast just going and showing my horse with my friends and being in the stalls and being in the fair for the week. The fair was really the highlight," she said.

Though Dane is more interested in the agricultural and arts and crafts pieces of 4-H, she's excited to see him participate and learn more in a different way.

"I wish that more people would do it. It's little to no cost and it's a good way for them (kids) to realize how the food gets to their plate and things like 20th century skills that kids just aren't getting anymore," she said. "They don't really know the workings of the world, they just know the instant things, so I think it's a great program."

Christy Pagano, a Hagaman resident who attended the recruitment night with her entire family, said she is a little disappointed to see that there aren't more clubs available, but she's excited for any of the programs that her sons can attend.

She was a 4-H member when she was young.

"I know I liked it and I know I had fun," she said, recalling programs on rabbits, sewing, and tin artistry. "I think it's excellent and I would like to see it continue to grow."

     

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