ONLY ON SUNRISE: 4-H celebrates 100 years

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) – Head, heart, hands and health! Those four words are the essence of a nationwide program teaching kids about agriculture and life.

This year, the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors have commemorated the 100th anniversary of 4-H.

"I show market goats and I show poultry,” says Jake Henning, Junior at Memorial H.S.

Since 17-year old Jake was a young boy, he’s worked on countless projects with his 4-H club called the Maple Drive Boosters.

"I'm the president of our county's older youth council,” he says.

Miranda Thesing-Ritter is another 17-year old 4-H member that’s been part of a 70 year history with the 4-H club called the Pleasant Hill Go Getters.

"Now I'm showing dairy cattle, horses, swine, natural science, photography,” says Miranda, a Senior at Memorial H.S.

"We've been around since 1914 and 4-H started with canning clubs for young ladies and corn clubs for young men that they would grow their hybrid seed corn and the women would can it,” explains Sara Donnerbauer, a 4-H Youth Development Agent with Eau Claire County UW-Extension.

Jake, Miranda and Sara all agree that you don't necessarily have to be a farm kid to join 4-H. You can grow up in rural Wisconsin or in a city like Eau Claire.

Just outside of Eau Claire is where you’d find Miranda on her 88-acre farm. It’s where she mixes her farm life and spends time working on 4-H projects, like sewing her prom dress.

She says, "It is moving more toward city and urban, at least in our county, but we still have a lot of agriculture. It's a great combination between agriculture because agriculture is what feeds the world and people need to make that connection."

"4-H is all about experiential learning. Our motto is learning by doing. So were getting kids and they're getting their feet dirty,” added Sara.

Sara is a 4-H agent with Eau Claire County UW-Extension and a product of being a 4-H kid.

She says, "When I got to college, it was the life skills I learned. The communication, the confidence, the ability to speak in front of my peers was all there and definitely came from my involvement in 4-H youth development programs.”

Jake says, "I think 65% of our kids are from an urban setting so that's pretty overwhelming and we have a lot of diversity for them. I mean it’s not just animals.”

He explained that even though he's considered urban, he's had the opportunity to show chickens and learn life skills. He even integrates technology like power points at his 4-H meetings.

"We also give a lot of life skills like interviewing and resume writing. It's all the things employers are working for so that will make it a lot easier to get a job,” said Jake.

Miranda was even selected as a delegate in Washington to represent Wisconsin last week through 4-H.

"I met with our legislature in D.C along with presenting about the future of agriculture and the future of farming to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary of Agriculture,” explained Miranda

"It's a good organization and we hope we can go for another 100 years,” says Jake.

For more information about how to join 4-H, visit your county UW-Extension website. Find those links above the picture.

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