Drake explains the benefits of 4-H during a recent chamber discussion – Kiowa County Signal

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By Jennifer Stultz
Editor

Pratt County Research and Extension Officer Jodi Drake highlighted the importance of 4-H club opportunities for area youth last Thursday during a special Chamber of Commerce morning town hall meeting. of the Pratt area held at the county extension offices at 824 W. First Street, Pratt.

“We have five local clubs and serve over 140 young people who are registered with those clubs,” Drake said. “We have a wide variety of projects for members to sign up for, and there’s more than cooking or livestock to choose from. We have rockets, electricity, leadership, photography, these are just some of the things young people can choose to learn. 4-H is for everyone.

Pratt County clubs include Preston, Southwest, Glendale Reapers, Pratt Pioneers, and the Country Trailblazers. These clubs are all open for membership at this time and those interested can contact the Pratt County Office of Research and Extension at (620) 6726121 for more information.

Drake explained that 4-H clubs not only provide an outlet for young people with special interests in farming, animals or a variety of other things, but they also emphasize community service and building leadership skills, which is very much needed in today’s society.

“We work closely with school district FFA programs with older children,” Drake said. “There are overlapping agendas and young people can get double duty for their hard work.”

Pratt County is currently served by two officers, Drake, who leads the areas of Home Economics and Family Sciences. She shares 4-H leadership duties with recently added Agriculture and Agriculture Officer Rhett Newby. “Rhett has a very strong background in 4-H and family farming and jumped right here in Pratt County at the fair this summer,” she said. “He also has very active cattle judging groups.”

Drake said the extension office serves local gardeners, farmers and ranchers as a point of help to solve problems or find answers to questions.

“We’ve had a lot of questions recently about weed control, drought situations, planting plans,” she said.

Drake also shared the story behind the establishment of county offices for farm and ranch management through Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture. She said her paycheck actually came from K-State’s research and extension department, though Pratt County handles the office’s annual budget requests.

Drake pointed to a Pratt County exhibit showcase that recently returned from the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson last month, with several top-notch ribbons and awards.

She said many volunteers and adult helpers have made the Pratt County and 4-H research and extension programs top notch in the state because of their dedication. Pratt County remains a single-county district, although many other districts in the state have combined to span multiple counties.

Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ashley Smith said she grew up as a 4-H member and can attribute many learnings and happy experiences to that experience.

“4-H even brought my husband to me,” Smith said.

Drake said the romance was not a proposed project, nor could she verify that the pairing took place, but that it was a program that helps connect young people with d other people who have the same interests and provides opportunities to explore those interests.

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