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4-H is expanding its reach here, adding new clubs and interests for area kids.
“We have quite a few that are new just since last year,” said Jessica Manning, Wilson County 4-H and youth development agent at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County. “We are very fortunate in Wilson County to have so many active 4-H clubs. Not every county is that fortunate.”
The statewide youth development organization teaches young people skills they need to succeed through educational programs and camps.
“We now have Elm City 4-H,” Manning said. “They used to have a very popular 4-H club a while back, and then their members aged out. That club has started back.”
Another new club is the Small-Town Clovers, which is in the Saratoga/Stantonsburg area.
“They have a lot of young people, a lot of the 4- to-8-year-old Cloverbuds. That club is exciting to walk into because the kids are just ecstatic to be doing some of the programs,” Manning said.
Also new this year are the Tuskegee Holiness Church 4-H Club and the Wilson Wranglers 4-H Club, a horse club that is starting out in Elm City.
Older clubs in the county include Rock Ridge 4-H, Lucama 4-H, St. Mary’s 4-H, New Hope 4-H, Kickin’ Clovers 4-H and White Oak 4-H.
Some 4-H clubs added in recent years are blossoming.
“The Flywheel 4-H Electrical Club continues to stay steady,” Manning said. “This is a kid-run club. They obviously have an adult leader, but the young people are the ones that do all of the programming for the music and the lights out here at the Wilson Winter Lights in December. They are a very important part of the Wilson Botanical Gardens big event.”
Another longtime club is the Wilson County 4-H Shooting Sports Club that brings together young people who are interested in archery, pistol, shotgun and rifle competitions.
The club has 17 to 19 people who are competing today in the regional tournament at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia.
“We are hoping to have a successful day there and move on to the state tournament next month,” Manning said.
The Wilson County team placed fifth in the nation at a competition this summer.
The Beddingfield 4-H Club at Beddingfield High School is also strong historically in livestock events at the local regional and state levels.
The 4-H Envirothon Club, consisting of homeschooled students, focuses on environmental stewardship, runoff, pollution and environmental health.
Manning said the leaders, all volunteers, are getting stronger and stronger in the groups.
“We could not do what we do in 4-H without the volunteers that help us spread the word and grow these young people because they are being the role models for our next generations,” Manning said. “We could not have the programming that we do without their help.”
Five Wilson County teenagers, all 4-Hers, participated in the first-ever Cultivating Future Leaders agronomy program this summer.
They included Auston Dew, Javan Harrell, Thorp Smith, Tyler Lucas and Cody Miller. All the participants plan to either pursue agricultural careers or go to college to prepare them for careers in agriculture.
“The purpose of the program was not only to open their eyes to newer technology or seed development going on right now, but also for them to see the different career opportunities available in agriculture,” Manning said.
“They went on a three-day tour of Virginia and North Carolina agricultural sectors,” Manning said. “We went to several farms to see how they were running their operations. We went to Syngenta in RTP, and they actually got to see that even if you didn’t know anything about agriculture, you were still needed in their IT department to help run all of the technologies, or you were needed in the research component to grow these new varieties of plants.”
The program will be opened to other counties around Wilson next year.
“Wilson County has a very large farming operation in itself, and we need to encourage our young people to pursue agriculture and see agriculture and not just going out and working on the farm but all of the other businesses that help farmers work,” Manning said. “Since we have a lot of farmers’ children that are wanting to go back to the family farm, I like to see that they are educated and they can make the right decisions about their family business when they get older. There’s not better time to start than when they are still young and can soak up all of the information they can.”
Representatives from all Wilson County 4-H clubs will join together for the county council at 6 p.m. Monday at the Wilson County Agricultural Center at 1806 SW Goldsboro St. in Wilson. To learn more about 4-H in Wilson County and to get a child involved in a club, call 252-237-0111 or visit https://wilson.ces.ncsu.edu/.