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story.lead_photo.caption MEGAN DAVIS/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Eli Jones, 4-H youth program specialist, leads students at Anderson Elementary in the 4-H pledge following the first raising of the 4-H flag on campus.

A new project that kicked off just last week at Anderson Elementary School is the first of its kind in the state.

Officials in McDonald County are introducing 4-H into the school's curriculum.

Regionally expanding 4-H has challenged organizers to think outside the box, said Mike Coffey, an official with the University of Missouri Extension Office in Neosho.

"We had to start exploring growing 4-H in a nontraditional way," said Coffey, who serves as a regional 4-H specialist for Newton, McDonald and Barry counties.

McDonald County Extension program director Jennifer Lutes began speaking with local teachers and exploring ideas and options to expand 4-H.

Local 4-H enthusiasts and supporters brainstormed and collaborated to find ways to grow the organization, plant some seeds and build for the future.

That led officials and school staff to bring 4-H into Anderson Elementary to build fun, hope and future leaders.

The integration into the school's curriculum is a first milestone in Missouri, Coffey said.

At Anderson, students have a "synergy time," a non-structured amount of time during the day that they can utilize to do homework. Once a month, 4-H officials will utilize that time to hold a council meeting and work on projects.

In the future, officials also hope to introduce it at the junior and senior high levels. The class will be an elective for students, Coffey explained.

Coffey is excited that the new program in the schools will help children find projects to complete in their communities.

"The school can use this as a tool to develop learning skills and to drive students out into the community for community service," Coffey said.

Teaming up with a nursing home would be ideal, for children to help out with gardening and landscaping tasks, he said.

Functioning alongside the traditional 4-H structure, officials will likely create reduced fees for students. Additionally, officials hope to create other kinds of opportunities so the students can compete at the fair or participate in a similar event at school.

The mission, of course, is to build and grow 4-H for the future. Officials also hope to continue teaching the core values which guide and help youth for the future.

"We want to have an impact of growing responsible leaders of tomorrow," Coffey said.

"We are very happy about getting this off the ground."

4-H efforts are also expanding south of Anderson, with the launching of a new 4-H Club in Jane.

The guidelines have been met: a minimum of five new members (not from the same family) and a club organizer.

Gayla Baker of Jane is organizing the club. The first meeting will take place at 2 p.m., Oct. 21, at the Jane Store, Coffey said.

McDonald County has five clubs. A club in Anderson and one in Rocky Comfort are the nearest clubs to Jane, he said.

"It will be very good to get them established there."

General News on 10/11/2018

Print Headline: 4-H Expanding In McDonald County

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