4-H hooks up with high schools

High school students needing to get their 40 hours of community service in order to graduate have a new option to consider–joining 4-H.
The Rainy River District 4-H Association will be starting up “community involvement clubs” this month for students at both Rainy River and Fort Frances High Schools.
Peggy Dorie, a district 4-H leader and member of the FFHS school council, brought the idea of helping students get their community hours to the 4-H executive earlier this year, thinking it could come up with volunteer work for the students to do.
“It was the president of the 4-H Association [Debbie Zimmerman] who said, ‘Why don’t we create a club?’” Dorie noted.
Community involvement clubs will follow the same structure as other 4-H clubs, requiring meetings, a president, vice-president, and press secretary. But each one will provide a minimum of 10 hours of community involvement hours working in the different communities across the district.
“We’ve contacted about 40 local organization for ideas that the kids could do,” Dorie said. “We’re just waiting for the feedback now.”
Once they have a list of community service groups willing to participate, the leaders of each club then would get to pick which ones they’d like to work with.
Leaders also could draw on the service groups to invite guest speakers to their meetings.
“And they would be supervised,” Dorie said. “We wouldn’t just drop them off at a club and leave them.”
Dorie said the first community involvement club already is set to go in Stratton, hopefully with more to follow across the rest of the district.
Tracy Hyatt, Vicki Calder, Joanne Neilson, and Margie Gemmell have joined Zimmerman and Dorie on a sub-committee to create a club manual to be submitted to the provincial association.
“It’s in the works right now,” Dorie said, noting it’s on the agenda to be considered at the next provincial meeting later this year.
Meanwhile, the idea of community involvement clubs has been met with enthusiasm by the two high school.
“We discussed it at our school council, and the council thought it was a great idea,” noted RRHS principal Don McBride. “The whole concept of getting students involved in community service has been well accepted.
“And for students who don’t know where to go, this club will help to support them,” he added.
FFHS principal Terry Ellwood agreed the club provides a solution to the problem of finding a place for rural students to do their 40 hours of service, with 4-H acting as a “brokerage” for them.
“This is a very good idea,” Ellwood said. “It’s probably among the kind of cutting edge innovations happening in Ontario.”
While the program may help rural students, Dorie said the community involvement clubs also give 4-H more exposure among town ones. She noted everyone involved stands to gain from the clubs being in place.
“We’re helping the board of education, we’re helping the 4-H association, and we’re helping the kids and we’re helping the parents,” Dorie said.
“What better way to get supervised community hours than a program like this?” she wondered.