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Clayton youths explore community

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A dozen Clayton County children spent the past week zig-zagging across the county, learning more about different parts of their community, during 4-H's Clover College.

Over the past five days, they visited a bee farm, the William H. Reynolds Memorial Nature Preserve, the Clayton County Water Authority offices and the authority's Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center.

They also visited the headquarters for the county's police and fire departments.

"They really need to know what's in their county, and how they can have fun for a minimum amount of cost," said Juliet Walls, the Clover College coordinator.

Clover College, which concluded on Friday, is one of several activities the Clayton County 4-H program is offering local youths this summer.

In addition to going on field trips around the county, the youths also participated in an instructional period where they learned about a different topic each day. Those topics included creating a PowerPoint presentation, protecting the environment, and cooking healthy food.

"The biggest thing I learned is you can have fun while learning at the same time," said camper Tamia Hurst, 11, a resident of Jonesboro.

Several Clover College participants said the cooking lesson, which took place on Friday, was a highlight of the week-long summer camp. The children made turkey pinwheels, which have an ingredient list that includes pita bread, garden vegetable cream cheese, lettuce, carrots and turkey, Hurst said.

Jelani Harris, 12, a camper from Riverdale, said he enjoyed the cooking lesson because turkey pinwheels are something he had never eaten before, and he liked the way they tasted. "It was gooey, but it was also warm at the same time," Harris said. "Once you eat one bite, it makes you want to eat another. I'm going to keep that recipe in case I get hungry in the future."

Another camper from Riverdale, Fabian Johnson, 13, said he and other Clover College participants discovered the food lesson was not only about cooking. Johnson said the campers learned about how they can live a healthier lifestyle through healthy eating habits and exercise. Later in the day, the youths took a field trip to the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center in Jonesboro for two hours of swimming.

"It's very important to live a healthy lifestyle because you've got to keep fit. Therefore, it's important to stay active," Johnson said. "Swimming is a sport, and it also keeps you active, even though you may not think of it that way because you're having fun at the same time."

Although Clover College has ended, the county's 4-H program will offer "Summer Adventures" July 13-17, during which local youths in grades five through eight are taken on field trips around metro Atlanta. There are six spots left in this camp, Walls said.

It will also offer a "College Camp" July 20-24 for high school-age youths. Walls said the College Camp will teach youths about college-related issues, such as financial aid, and studying for college courses.

The campers will also visit Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Fort Valley State University, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University, Walls said. She said 12 spots are left for this camp.

She said the cost to attend each camp is $70, and while preference is given to children from Clayton County, Henry County youths can also sign up if there is space available.

For more information about these camps, call Clayton County 4-H at (770) 473-3945.