4-H still fresh at 100
By Tom Campbell
Garden Club members at Indianapolis' Center for Inquiry School are
up to their elbows in potting soil. For the past six weeks, the 9-year-olds
have learned how plants grow.
Kwamesha Eubank and Chelsea Clardy water the begonias and measure the
growth of corn and bean plants that have engulfed Paula Fischer's classroom.
Classmates Oni Thomas and Tyffani Johnson are busy transplanting tomatoes
into individual containers they will take home for their own gardens.
The students are unaware their tomatoes have roots in 4-H, the ever-evolving
youth service organization that took root in the soils of American culture
100 years ago.
The Garden Club is a component of a 4-H school enrichment program that
is equal parts botany, plant physiology, horticulture and fun.
"We get to go outside and make our campus better by planting bulbs,
protecting our environment, learning how plants get their food and how
they grow," Oni says.
"My parents are going to be surprised how much I learned from
Garden Club," Tyffani says. "They're going to learn what I
teach them about gardening."
Which is exactly what the 4-H founders had in mind a century ago.
Youth leaders started corn and cooking clubs to teach youngsters better
farming and homemaking techniques. The hope was that youngsters would
learn new techniques and technologies, and then take that information
back to their farms and teach their parents what they had learned.
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