Lessons learned through 4-H last a lifetime

Published 7:04 pm Monday, October 10, 2005

By Staff
I am finally coming out of the closet and admitting I was a cat leader. Those of you who would rather see tire marks on their furry neighbors, I am sorry.
4-H was a new concept to me when I came to Dowagiac 25 years ago, after growing up in a suburb of Chicago.
Though we didn't have farm animals, my kids got interested in the many other activities the clubs offer, such as woodworking and crafts.
Some of the ceramic pieces they painted haven't survived, but the memories of those days have.
When my daughter came along she was interested in showing her cat, but there wasn't a cat leader willing to lead the class.
Not sure of what was entailed (no pun intended) I forged ahead. I read and studied and planned classes.
What I didn't expect was to enjoy it so much.
At the time I had interviewed Ed Lowe at his Big Rock Valley Farm in Cassopolis, and had also been recruited as a &#8221Kitty Litter sniffer.“; Yes, I really did have to sniff the stuff, to see if the different scents worked at eliminating or masking the odor.
I was able to take my 4-H class to his cattery, where a group of beautiful cats were treated like kings and queens.
The 4-Hers were treated to a tour and learned much more than I could teach them.
I think I also had a groomer talk to the kids and show them how to brush their cats.
The most fun though was preparing for the costume class. As a maker and renter of Halloween costumes since my own children were small, designing and making costumes for these four-footed furry creatures was just plain fun.
I don't really know what memories those who were in the cat class have, but I know I still think of that time fondly.
This week we celebrate 4-H week. I know clubs throughout the area are sponsoring different activities, making displays and having dinners.
If you have children think about enrolling them in 4-H. If you have even just a little time to offer, think about what skills you can offer. Maybe you can teach woodworking, painting or photography.
Learning these at a young age will stay with the young people as they grow, possibly leading to careers or at least hobbies in their futures.
4-H shouldn't just be a hurried few weeks before the fair. The clubs meet all year and classes should have value in themselves, not just as a vehicle to produce projects to show at the fair.
Sign-ups in the Cass County 4-H clubs run through December. Call the MSU Extension office at 445-4438 to enroll your child or volunteer to become an adult leader.