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4-H Is Fertile Ground For Kids Who Like Plants And Animals



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4-H Is Fertile Ground For Kids Who Like Plants And Animals

By Tanjua Damon

Middle and elementary school students are enjoying the prospects of warm weather so they can continue their agricultural endeavors as 4-H club members.

The 4-H Club is sponsored by Newtown Youth Services. Jonathan Aragones, youth program director, facilitates the group that learns about gardening and animals.

There are two groups of 4-H at NYS. Children in grades four and five meet on Mondays at 3:15 pm. Middle school students meet on Wednesdays at 4 pm. There are eight students in each group. New members are always welcome.

Just over two weeks ago, seven chickens (four large Buff Orpingtons and three small Bantams) were given to the clubs. The members have been learning about the varieties of chickens they are, egg production, and what needs to be done to take care of the birds.

The National Gardening Association has also awarded a $750 grant in seeds, tools, and pots for the garden that was started last year on Huntingtown Road. The local clubs were selected from 1,500 children’s gardening programs nationwide for the 2001 Youth Garden grant. There are a total of 400 winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa.

The hope this year is to have compact garden areas where the 4-Hers will grow vegetables like corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Soon the clubs will make their way outside to begin preparing for the garden.

“Snow has been keeping us inside,” Mr Aragones said. “Hopefully it will get warmer so we can do more of the outdoor stuff.”

Twelve-year-old Stephen Kramer decided to join 4-H because he needed something to so.

“It’s pretty cool. I like the chickens,” Stephen said. “I needed something to do. It’s a good way to spend my time.”

The idea of working with and learning about animals enticed Shayna Moliver, 11, to be a 4-H member.

“Because it sounded like fun. I like animals,” Shayna said. “We learn mostly about animals. In the spring we’re going to be working in the garden.”

Zack Moliver, 12, hopes to design a rat circus since he enjoys learning about all different kinds of animals. The group is also researching the possibility of getting some rabbits too.

“I like doing school activities. It sounded like fun,” Zack said. “She [his sister, Shayna] always got the pet. I always used to catch animals in Maine, but I had to let them go.”

Chickens are not new to 4-H member Billy Tierno. He has some at his home. Joining 4-H was a way for Billy to work with the birds and to gain the skills he needs to show them.

“It’s fun. I wanted to have some experience with animals,” Billy said. “I have chickens, turtles, and dogs. I want to show chickens and dogs.”

4-H is a way for youngsters to learn about agriculture and animals, according to Mr Aragones. The members will learn about how plants grow and the uses of manure from animals as a fertilizer for the growing process. Other activities include nature identification, crafts and projects, garden planning, and birds and animals. A pet show is planned for the spring.

For more information about 4-H contact Newtown Youth Services at 203/270-4335.

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