For over 100 years, boys and girls ages 5 to 19 have been participating in 4-H throughout the United States and yesterday a group of 17 kindergarten through second grade students from Cutchogue East Elementary gathered for their first ever 4-H Club meeting.
4-H — representing head, heart, hands and health –— began as a rural youth program that introduced new agriculture technology into communities and has grown into a country-wide network of community clubs tackling national issues such as global food scarcity, climate change and sustainable energy. The clubs encourage “learning by doing” and each club determines what projects they will work on.
At their first meeting, the Cutchogue East group, the North Fork Explorers, filled out first day interview forms, participated in a craft and were fitted for their T-shirts. Club leaders Tonya Witczak and Rebecca Nolan explained to the children that they would be learning new skills, practicing leadership, giving back to their community and making lots of new friends.
Their first field trip as a group will be to Turtleback Farm in Cutchogue, where they will assist in clearing fallen leaves and debris from hiking trails. Future plans for the club include making picture frames for senior citizens at Peconic Landing, planting flowers in the spring and working with Lucy Senesac at Sang Lee Farm on a gleaning project.
For a community service project, the group plans to raise funds to add additional swings to the playground at Cutchogue East Elementary.
Witczak, who was also a Girl Scout leader, is very excited about the brand new club.
“I personally love working with the kids and giving of my time,” she said. “I feel all these extra programs for kids give them great learning experiences.”