Children in Fairfax City may soon have another after-school activity to consider joining. Julie Knight and Gerry and Brenda Weaver are hoping to start up a 4-H club in Fairfax.
“I was able to get scholarships for college. I went to a 4-H Congress in Chicago,” said Knight, of her own experiences in 4-H. “I remember the fun I had learning. … There was always something to do.”
Knight, a mother of two, said 4-H is a “positive youth development program. It’s not a livestock program, although when it started over 100 years ago we did live in an agrarian society.”
“Four-H isn’t about raising better corn now,” she said. “The mission is to help young people become productive members of society.”
However, some parents who have asked Knight about the club have been disappointed to find out that 4-H’s farm focus has shifted.
“Some parents were disappointed that we weren’t working with farm animals. They wanted their kids to have that exposure,” she said.
Knight said she wants to try a 4-H club for her three children as an alternative to the typical Scouts and athletic clubs already available.
“This is a life-skill development club,” she said. “In this area, there are competing demands for time. We don’t want to over-program our kids, but it’s important for them to be well-rounded."
ANOTHER ASPECT of this club that’s different is the need for involvement from parents.
“We need adults in the community to get involved, that are willing to share their skills with kids,” Knight said. “This is a great chance for retired members of the community that want to give back.”
Gerry Weaver was also in 4-H as a boy and has equally fond memories of his time as a member.
“It helps you to become more independent,” Weaver said. “There’s nothing like this right in Fairfax City.”
Weaver said the core projects have changed in scope from the corn-growing activities of years ago.
“We’re going to do things like bicycling, cooking, environmental things,” he said. “It depends on the kids’ interests and the adult volunteers.
“I’d be able to teach just about anything they’re interested in,” he said of the club members. “Except maybe for sewing, but maybe.”
The appeal of 4-H for Weaver and his family is the convenience of having his son and two daughters in the same activity.
“It’s like one-stop shopping for us,” he said. “It’s a place we can take all our children. You have that with the Scouts, but the girls have to go without their brother.”
Brenda Weaver shares her husband’s enthusiasm, if not his background in 4-H.
“It’s a fun place to go with the whole family, with scouting we can’t be in two places at once,” said Brenda Weaver, who serves as a leader for her youngest daughter’s Clover Bud Club, a 4-H club for children not old enough to join regular 4-H.
“Four-H teaches kids responsibility. They elect leaders themselves, which isn’t something they would get from soccer,” Brenda Weaver said.
WHILE THE farm-based programs aren’t necessarily included in a more urban program, Brenda Weaver said the core values are the same.
“It teaches good life skills that aren’t taught anywhere anymore,” she said. “Where are they going to learn how to sew on a button or cook a meal? These skills aren’t taught in high school anymore, and kids are so focused on college that one day they’re 25 years old and can’t cook a meal."
The startup meeting for the Fairfax City 4-H club takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m., at the Fairfax United Methodist Church, 10300 Stratford Ave. For more information about joining or volunteering, contact Julie Knight at 703-691-3406.