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West Austin 4-H Offers Opportunities Beyond Just Raising Animals

Posted: Tue, 9 Aug 2016 11:54 PM - 4,618 Readers

By: Leslie Dolliver

When most people hear about 4-H, the first thing that comes to mind is kids raising animals for show.  Though learning about and raising an animal is one project opportunity, it is just a small piece of what 4-H has to offer.

Every monthly 4-H meeting begins by reciting the 4-H Motto and Pledge: “In support of the 4-H Club Motto —To Make the Best Better—I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”  

Each meeting has a new learning opportunity with a program about a relevant topic.  The students (grades 3-12) serve as officers and run the meeting.  There is an agenda and the secretary takes minutes.  The younger officers are encouraged and mentored by the older officers as they learn about parliamentary procedure and how to properly run a meeting.  It is a joy to see the younger members who may be shy at first, grow in their confidence and learn to speak in front of an audience.

Members are encouraged to explore learning and competition opportunities at the County, District, and State levels.  In recent years, members have competed in the following contests—Photography (County and District levels), Consumer Decision Making Contest (County, District, State, and National levels), Educational Presentations (County, District, and State levels), Agricultural Product Identification Contest, Wildlife Challenge, Food Challenge, and the Leaders for Life Competition (a parliamentary procedure contest at the District and State levels).  Most of these contests offer competitions as a team or as an individual.  

There are also workshops that encourage learning and personal growth.  In July, some members attended the Youth Leadership Program hosted by the Travis County 4-H Council.  This was a 3-day camp hosted by a Toastmaster at which the participants learned and practiced how to give a variety of different speeches.  This was FREE to 4-H members.  This was the 12th year of this life-changing summer program.

West Austin 4-H members have won awards at the State Fair in Dallas, the San Angelo Livestock Show & Rodeo, the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo, 4-H State Roundup, Heart of Texas Fair & Rodeo in Waco, the Travis County Youth Show, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, and the Western National Roundup in Denver.  Competitions are available at the Junior (3rd-5th grades), Intermediate (6th-8th grades), and Senior (9th-12th grades) level.  

The elected officers of the West Austin 4-H Club for the 2016-2017 school year are Bennett Folsom (President), Martha Dolliver (VP Membership), Brian Witheril (Treasurer), Jordan Smith (VP Recreation), Michael Cotton (VP Community Service), Emma Dixon (Social Media Officer), David Dolliver (Secretary), Schaeffer Folsom (Parliamentarian), and Alice Moody (Health & Safety Officer).  
In May, Bennett Folsom was also elected President of the Travis County 4-H Council (at the County level) and was elected in June to serve as an Officer at the District and State levels.  Martha Dolliver was elected to serve as Secretary of the Travis County 4-H Council and her brother David Dolliver will serve as the Health & Safety Officer at the County Council as well.  

Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Travis County West Rural Center on Highway 71.  If you would like to learn more about 4-H, contact one of the Co-Managers of the West Austin 4-H Club—Leslie Dolliver at 512-263-5665 or Beth Cotton at 512-658-9194.  The first meetings of the year are set for August 17th and September 21st.  

*  Story Contributed by: Leslie Dolliver


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