Though its roots are rural, Nelson’s new 4-H club is proving popular with children who don’t have the opportunity to keep sheep or chickens in the back yard.
Started in January, the group has 13 members to date, and leader Kathleen Comstock says she’s getting a good mix of kids living in and outside of the city.
“Traditionally 4-H is for the rural kids,” she says. “But not any more.”
Comstock started the club this year because she wanted her two young daughters to take part in the program.
“It was kind of word of mouth at the beginning,” she says. “I just went through the schools and the riding club, and it spread from there.”
She’s since attracted enough members to do two variations on 4-H programming: project-based work for children nine and up, and the Cloverbuds for those between six and eight.
While older members will spend the year caring for miniature horses (donated and housed by some generous locals), the Cloverbuds are considered a bit too young to do a major project.
“They do little snippets of all the different projects that the 4-H club offers,” Comstock says. “This year they’re doing chickens, sheep — they do six different projects in one year, so by the end of their three years in Cloverbuds they’ll know everything the 4-H club has to offer.”
Meanwhile, the older members meet with their horses once a week at the Nelson riding grounds, then visit the animals at their owners’ homes on Sundays. Twice a month 4-H members also meet for business meetings, to plan events related to the club’s other priorities.
“They have to do public speaking and display projects, do community services, and project work,” Comstock explains, adding while working with horses is a big draw for members, there are greater goals behind the group.
“The main focus is developing marketable skills for when they mature and go out into the workforce. They’re learning public speaking and leadership.”
As part of that, Comstock doesn’t actually run the club. The group has a president, secretary and treasurer to do that.
“Our president right now is 11, and she runs all of our meetings,” she says.
“And then we have another 11 year old who’s our treasurer and she signs all of our cheques and keeps our books. They learn so much more than just how to take care of a horse.”
The club is still accepting members. To get involved with 4-H contact Comstock at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-352-9693.