Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
Clayton County 4-H, a branch of the University of Georgia and the Clayton County Cooperative Extension, recently celebrated the 106th anniversary of the 4-H Youth and Development Organization, as part of National 4-H Week.
The organization is the nation's largest extracurricular youth program, with almost seven million members nationwide, according to program officials.
The organization seeks to develop leadership, citizenship, life-skills, community service and character, according to Laura Garrett, 4-H extension agent for Clayton County 4-H club.
The local celebration took place Tuesday at Truett's Grill in Morrow. Garrett said a fund-raiser was held for the local group during the celebration.
Jordan Windson, assistant marketing director for Truett's Grill in Morrow, said the fund-raiser was made possible through the restaurant's "Spirit Night," program, which allows for partnerships with local schools, and several organizations and companies.
He said 15 percent of the sales made at the restaurant, during a set period of time, will go to Clayton County 4-H.
"I definitely consider the evening a success," said Garrett. "It was great to see parents and children just enjoying time together. Our staff met several new families whose children have just joined 4-H, and we got to talk with them about all 4-H has to offer."
The event included a variety of activities for 4-H members, such as trivia games, prizes and giveaways.
Rachelle Ivie, 16, welcomed guests at the door, on a cool fall evening, as the 106th Anniversary celebration was taking place. She said she was excited about the event, and was seeing a good turnout. "Elementary kids are signing up, so that's good."
Ivie said she is a Senior 4-H Member, because she is enrolled in high school.
"It [4-H] means to me, doing stuff outside of the county, meeting new people, and learning new things," said Ivie, a junior at Lovejoy High School, in Lovejoy.
Ten-year-old Alexandria Jackson, a fifth-grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, in Morrow, was among those who signed up to participate in Clayton County 4-H, during the event. She said she was interested in the youth organization because it educates members about the importance of healthy eating, and a healthy lifestyle.
Extension Agent Laura Garrett said children must be at least in fifth grade to enroll in the youth organization. It is free to join, but there are fees for certain activities, such as camps and field trips.
Former 4-H participant, Dawn Tupper, said she collected a lot of 4-H memories, while in Clayton County 4-H during her high school years.
She said that, through 4-H, she volunteered in a number of places in the community, including nursing homes and childcare centers. Tupper also recalled volunteering at a clean-up event on Highway 138.
She said she eventually moved on from 4-H, and took her love of volunteerism to college, at Georgia Southern University, in Statesboro, Ga. There, she said, she helped in establishing a sorority chapter, Omega Phi Alpha. The sorority is centered around community service, she added.
The 24-year-old Tupper said, "4-H has made me who I am today. A better, well-rounded person. I've formed a lot of friendships, from all around the state of Georgia, who I still talk to today."
She added that, when her 15-month-old daughter is of age, she will enroll her in a 4-H program.