Volunteers At Their Best

By Janet Kehres

The largest 4-H group in Richland County is the Shelby Cloverleafs. They have 66 members with 22 of those being Cloverbuds. Karen Harvey (27 years involved with 4-H) is the "Chief" Advisor, but has numerous "moms" helping at any given meeting. LouAnn Steiner (23 years involved with 4-H) is the leader of the pack for the Cloverbuds. Cloverbuds are any child who is enrolled in kindergarten and is age 5 as of January first of the current year. Cloverbuds do not compete as a group at the fair.

They can participate at the fair individually in the open class category. They meet regularly with the members of the 4-H group but do smaller projects (community service and fun learning activities). Kristen Wasilewski (college student – majoring in teaching) is Lou Ann's first class volunteer. The ladies are among the 139 certified volunteers that account for more than 32,109 hours of service at an estimated value of $724,058 that contribute to the personal development of Richland County's 2,493 4-H community club members and/or youth participants. The OSU Extension Office sponsors all of the 4-H groups and assists in many ways. Recently area McDonalds Family Restaurants had "Pancake Day". The area 4-H members volunteered to served "all you can eat" pancakes at several McDonalds establishments. The majority of the proceeds went to the OSU Extension office and will be distributed to the different 4-H Chapters.

Shelby Cloverbuds are currently filling plastic eggs with candy for Easter baskets to be taken to Haromony House. This is just one of the several community projects that this group of little ones accomplish each year. Lou Ann tries to have various fun learning activities for the children. They practice in a "show & tell" type of atmosphere and do judging with questions about their individual projects to teach the children what it will be like when they are Cloverleafs and competing at the fair. One interesting project the "little ones" did recently was to make "I Spy" bottles. The children filled an empty two liter bottle of pop with rice, rubber bands, paper clips and other goodies. They then passed the bottles around and played I Spy.

Each month both groups start together with the role call and pledge. If there is a special speaker, both groups stay together to hear the speaker. If other activities are scheduled, the little ones go to another room to do their various projects. The older group reviews what needs to be done on their projects that will better prepare them for the fair this summer. If the Cloverleafs do any demonstrations, the Cloverbuds watch and learn. During fair week the little ones can watch the older ones compete in the various areas. The older ones are wonderful helpers to the little ones.

This month both groups enjoyed a very interesting talk from Brenda Schroeder about Harmony House. Harmony House is a homeless shelter that people can stay up to three months. Brenda has been a volunteer at Harmony House for 25 years.

According to the OSU Extension Office, it assists more than 685 youth taking livestock projects about learning responsibility, caring for others, increasing knowledge on proper animal care and raising a quality product by participating in quality assurance training, livestock clinics and livestock interview judging. The members' successful care of livestock resulted in more than $550, 000 worth of economic advancement at the Livestock Auction at the county.

All of the above could not happen without volunteers. Hats off to the volunteers who help form the lives of your youth.

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