Special milestone

Published 10:37 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 marks the 100th year of 4-H in Alabama, and a celebration is in the works here in Chilton County.

As the new regional extension agent for 4-H youth and development, Lee Wideman is brainstorming ways to promote the organization and enlist new volunteers.

“It’s a real exciting time,” he said. “One of the things I am continuing to learn is that 4-H has a rich, deep history in Chilton County.”

Local 4-H clubs can be traced back to 1927, but much has changed since that time. In the organization’s early days, boys and girls were divided into separate clubs.

Fast forward to 2009, and 4-H is entering a new era. Clubs are moving outside of schools and becoming more community-based. The biggest resource the organization needs, however, is volunteers committed to teaching and developing youth.

“I want to see youth develop and find that sense of belonging that is important to all of us,” said Wideman, a former youth pastor. “Our goal is to multiply ourselves into the volunteers that we recruit. We want people to be able to find 4-H in a lot of different areas.”

Those areas include agriculture, science, technology, community service, citizenship, volunteerism, health, nutrition and others. Wideman’s role is to recruit, coordinate and train volunteer leaders who are interested in specific subjects. The next step is to start clubs.

“What we’re really trying to see develop is community-based clubs,” he said.

Types of clubs are virtually limitless. Examples include animal science, rocketry, food, sports fishing, wildlife judging, and even drama clubs.

“It really is almost limitless as to the possibilities,” Wideman said. “We are limited only by volunteers.”

4-H is planning several activities and events to celebrate the centennial. These will include summer camp and the annual Peach Cook-off. Times and dates will be announced later.

To get involved in 4-H, contact Wideman at (205) 394-2482.