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Lincoln County 4-H open to all students

It’s too late to join the marching band. The football teams are settled. There is no hockey.

But Lincoln County 4-H takes on new members any day — every day — and has a full calendar of events planned out for the school year’s fall semester. With more than 300 members, the organization is one of the largest 4-H groups in the state and is looking to swell its membership further in 2018.

“You can jump in any time you like,” said Lincoln County 4-H Extension Agent Jennifer Williams. “We just want to encourage involvement, and get all the kids we can in Lincoln County exposed to 4-H.”

Operated through the Mississippi State University Extension Service, 4-H is a youth development and leadership organization that focuses on hands-on activities to teach members in the areas of health, science, agriculture and citizenship, with activities done under the guidance of adult mentors. Its name derives from the use of one’s head, heart, hands and health in the pursuit of learning, citizenship and better living.

Williams said a large percentage of the Lincoln County chapter’s more than 300 members are entering their senior year of high school this fall, and the organization has started up a pair of new recruiting groups to begin training up future members.

The Cloverbud Club is for children ages 5-7, and will feature many fun, hands-on activities across a broad range of subjects — the hope being exposure to numerous activities will give the younger students a better idea of an area on which to focus when they reach age 8. The club meets Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the extension office on the second floor of the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complex.

Also new this year is the Homeschool Club, for children ages 8-13. Many 4-H members join the program through their public schools, and Williams said the homeschool club is designed to open up extracurricular opportunities for homeschool students and allow them to meet peers in the community.

“It’s important to recruit constantly, to keep 4-H going, especially when a lot of our 4-H’ers in Lincoln County are transitioning to seniors,” she said. “It’s important to grow that younger base, get them involved and try to keep them involved.”

The T-Bone Livestock Club meets in the extension office at 6 p.m. Thursday and the 4-H Shooting Sports kickoff meeting is set for Friday. The South Mississippi Volunteer Leadership Forum is Aug. 25, and the Homeschool Club meets at 2 p.m. in the extension office Aug. 28.

The deadline to register livestock ownership is Sept. 1, and retinal imaging for animals is Sept. 12 at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

The Mississippi State Fair in Jackson will be Oct. 3-14, with 4-H Day on Oct. 13.

The Lincoln County Junior Livestock Association Showdown is Nov. 2 and 3.

Williams said that while livestock is a major project area in Lincoln County, 4-H has many more opportunities for other students.

“We expose students to leadership opportunities, communications, responsibility, robotics — as long as you come in and talk to me, we can find a project area,” she said. “One way I always push 4-H is scholarship opportunities — every aspect of 4-H comes with scholarship opportunities, and that’s extremely important when students become juniors and seniors in high school.”

Any parents interested in introducing their children to 4-H membership may call the extension office at 601-835-3460, or email Williams at j.k.williams@msstate.edu.