Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending my first Durango Farmers Market. I was a little late to take advantage of the wild mushrooms available, but did get all other fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, honey and crafts that I needed.
The market gave me a real appreciation of the talents and skills the people of this area hold. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for the young people of our area to learn about the values and importance of supporting locally made and produced goods. As the “Localization Movement” continues to grow, we must support our youths by encouraging them to get involved in this movement.
The La Plata County 4-H program offers a variety of projects, activities and leadership development opportunities to engage young people in our community. For example, through projects in creative clothing, woodworking, heritage arts, ceramics, photography and leathercrafting, our youths gain important skills in how to use their artistic ability to create their own products. Many of these products contain unique aspects of the culture and natural landscape of the Southwest.
4-H is adapting to meet the demands of the current needs our young people face. We offer projects in computers, electrics, geospatial, robotics and other disciplines that promote a greater understanding of science, technology and engineering to prepare our youths for the future.
In addition, the natural resources, outdoor adventures, shooting sports and sports fishing projects look to train the next environmental and conservation stewards of our land.
4-H is most known for its proud tradition of projects in home economics and animal husbandry. Projects in food preservation, baking, creative cooks and nutrition have the potential of creating our future Iron Horse Chef winners. In addition, the projects support the importance of the local food movement and how to preserve the bounty of our local harvests Our animal husbandry projects can promote the value in local sustainable meat production that can keep more of our land in the hands of ranchers and farmers.
Young people also can take advantage of the leadership skills offered in 4-H. There are state, regional and national leadership conferences those members can attend. In addition, we have exchange trips, public speaking opportunities and community service events that build relationships and confidence in our youths.
These and other 4-H projects provide real life learning projects for young people to carry on the creative traditions of our past generations while providing new approaches to relate to today’s society. We also are looking to provide more activities through partnerships with other youth development organizations in the area that share the common vision shared in La Plata County’s Children, Youth and Family Master Plan.
The work of 4-H could not be done without the guidance of our leaders and volunteers. The greatest way to keep our history alive is through the passage of knowledge and traditions.
The 4-H program would like all people who have talents or skills and would like to see them passed along to our younger generation to get in touch with our extension office.
Our local economy of the future will benefit from our planning and organizing of today.
FelsenGH@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is 4-H youth development extension agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.