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4-H is Where Kids Are. 4-H is Whatever Kids Need
by Sarah Puthoff

Many adults think of livestock, cooking, and fairs when they hear 4-H. Today 4-H is that and much more!

Hi, my name is Sarah Puthoff and I would like to tell you about myself and my 4-H experience. I have enjoyed the 4-H program at Spokane County in Washington State for 6 years now. I am 13 years old and I have enjoyed Cow Sorting, Gaming, Jumping, Performance (Showmanship, Western, English and Trail), horse-camps and trail riding. I have enjoyed showing my horses and rabbits through the years. I have been able to attend the Washington State competition and learned that any kid can make it to State, no matter what kind of horse you have. Last year I qualified 3rd in Performance and 11th in Gaming with Snickers and was able to compete at the State Fair in Puyallup.

I also won 1st Place nationally for 4-H Showmanship (26 credits, with only 1 credit over 2nd place) in the American Paint Horse Association Paint Alternative Competition (consists of 2,093 members). Snickers and I placed 6th nationally for 4-H Timed Events (25 credits). For winning 1st place, I received a Gist belt buckle and display case. To win such a national award was great, since I had several horse and medical problems last year.

My horse Emmies Summer Miracle (aka Summer) was my performance horse in which I was suppose to show, however she was at the breeders most of the year. Since I couldn’t show Summer, I had to use my mom’s penning/sorting horse “Snickers” to compete in my 4-H shows. Snickers is used to working cows and buffalo, and is not familiar with acting all sophisticated and having to be a show horse. During a 4-1/2 hour trail ride in May, Snickers hurt her back and hips which required massage and treatment to get her back to good health in order to compete. My health problems involved getting strep throat and pneumonia shortly before the June show which left me unable to compete and reduced my chances of qualifying for the Washington State Fair. So, through all the hurdles that I had to climb during the 2006 year, I am very proud to have won a national event and to have qualified for the Washington State Fair and represented Spokane County. This year my goal is to qualify higher in Gaming and to make it to the Washington State Fair again.

In 4-H, I have learned detailed information from veterinarians, horse shoers, trainers and judges about horses’ health, nutrition and breeding. The 4-H program offers several educational events in my area, which include Hippology, Impromptus, Horse Bowl and Horse Judging. The educational parts of 4-H have improved my skills at school for giving presentations and my testing skills at school. I have met many new friends in 4-H and even become best friend with another girl (Kayleen Oliver) from another city. I have enjoyed the friendships and skills that I have learned in 4-H and I will be able to take them with me to my future adventures. I would suggest to join 4-H and to sign your horse up for the Paint Alternative Competition.

Now a little more information about my local 4-H county, in Washington state. In Spokane County, 4-H comes in many formats. Trained volunteers from local neighborhoods-collaborating with the Washington State University Spokane County-Extension-lead the local and community 4-H clubs. Clubs are diverse. Some are even located within the youth and teen centers at Fairchild Air Force Base and at Geiger Armory for children of soldiers, particularly soldiers that are deployed. The cornerstone of 4-H is found in the animal agricultural, leadership, and consumer science based areas. However in order to serve all the Spokane County youth, 4-H has branched out to other related and unrelated areas such as fine arts, gardening, martial arts, entomology, designing with textiles, crafts, making healthy snacks after school, summer science camps, small animal and pet care, and governance/leadership.

WSU Spokane County 4-H extension annually serves up to 1,000 youth through its core club-based program. These youth, ages 5-19 are involved in conventional clubs in sponsoring and coordinating activities in “project” areas of leadership, horse, livestock, small animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, “pocket pets” such as rats, ferrets, and snakes), cooking, sewing, public speaking, and dance and performance. These youth are served each year by a small professional staff from the WSU Spokane County Extension office and 250-300 trained adult volunteers and leaders. Spokane County youth perform, lead, learn, compete, and show at events, contests, and educational gatherings at the local, county, state, and even at the national level.

Over 50% of the youth enrolled in the 4-H community clubs raise animals - livestock and pets. Animals will always be an important project for youth because 4-H is the only organization where youth can focus on animals for their entire childhood. Research shows that involvement with animals during childhood is related to the degree of compassion in adulthood.

Head. Heart. Hands. Health. 4-H is focused on positive, healthy youth development. Sincerely, Sarah Puthoff


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6/7/07 10:21 PM