Bennington County 4-H seeks alumni for reunion

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BENNINGTON — If you are a former 4-H member, leader or agent from Bennington County, the Bennington County 4-H Foundation would like to hear from you.

For more than a century Bennington County 4-H has been providing programming to local youths, ages 5 to 18. To help recognize this milestone, the foundation would like to invite 4-H alumni to join them for a reunion banquet this fall. Additional events will be held next year, some of which will provide an opportunity for alumni to celebrate with current 4-H members.

"We are eager to hear about the local history of 4-H from the people who lived it," Joe Hall, a Bennington resident and foundation board member, said in a media release. "We hope that people will come to the reunion with their scrapbooks and stories and share the difference that 4-H has made in their lives."

To be placed on the mailing list for invitations to the reunion (place and date to be determined), other events and the quarterly county 4-H newsletter, send your name, mailing address, phone number and email address to pamela.lowell@uvm.edu by May 31. Indicate your affiliation, including your club name and years active.The first youth agricultural club in the country was founded by A. B. Graham in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, and was called The Tomato Club. Additional clubs were established across the country in the next decade, and by 1912, were known as 4-H clubs.4-H got it start in Vermont in 1914 under the leadership of Elwin L. Ingalls. Within two years 5,000 kids were enrolled in 80 clubs in 65 towns, including some in Bennington County, which hired its first 4-H agent, Martha Pratt, in 1919. Projects for boys included corn, potatoes, maple sugaring, poultry, lamb and calf production while girls learned bread baking, sewing, handicrafts, gardening and other domestic skills.In 1923 Marion Hardy, Bennington County 4-H agent from 1921 to 1945, founded Ondawa 4-H Camp in Sunderland. Camp activities focused on outdoor recreation, crafts, nature and the fourth "H" of 4-H, health, where campers learned about good nutrition and disease prevention. The weekly fee was $5 although eggs and potatoes were often accepted as part of the fee."Over the past 100 years, 4-H has evolved nationally and locally," Kimberley Griffin, the University of Vermont Extension 4-H educator for Bennington County, said. "While the organization's original offerings — agriculture, animal husbandry and homemaking — are still very much at the heart of what 4-H offers young people today, our program in Bennington County has so much more."We also have projects in fiber arts, shooting sports, leadership and public speaking skills. In 2019 we added two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs, LEGO robotics and K'nex Engineering."Bennington County 4-H clubs include the Green Leaf 4-H Club, Arlington; and Green Mountain Gallopers 4-H Club and Pownal Valley 4-H Sharpshooters Club, both in Pownal. More than 60 4-H'ers currently are enrolled in clubs with additional youths participating in after-school, in-school programming and special interest 4-H activities.Those interested in learning more about 4-H should contact Griffin at 802-773-3349, ext. 276, or kimberly.griffin@uvm.edu.

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