Clackamas County 4-H clubs provide a wide variety of learning opportunities

by: ESTACADA NEWS ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Jeff Livick of Timberline Ski Patrol teaches Austin Roberts, Alexandra Evrard and Alayna Roberts of the Mossy Rocks 4-H club compass skills.The morning of Saturday, April 6, found Jeff Livick of Timberline Ski Patrol teaching the three rapt children of the Mossy Rocks 4-H club orienteering skills at Milo McIver State Park.

“It’s a shame to me that we have all of these great resources and can only get three kids,” said club leader Barb Hicks.

Hicks has been involved with 4-H for most of her life and said confusion over the nature of 4-H is responsible for the limited membership of her club and others like hers.

Many parents automatically associate 4-H with livestock or cooking, when in fact 4-H spans a wide range of topics.

The Mossy Rocks, for instance, focus on natural sciences and study topics such as outdoor education, forestry and aquatic science.

According to Clackamas County 4-H Secretary Kelly Redwine, there are about 200 active 4-H clubs in Clackamas County, including individual family groups or clubs with members from only one household.

As of last year, there were 130 clubs in Clackamas County, of which approximately 70 were family groups. The most popular Clackamas County 4-H topics are horses, photography, swine, food and nutrition.

Recently, the Mossy Rocks 4-H club has visited an animal surgery demonstration at the Audubon Society of Portland, completed a first aid class, compiled outdoor survival kits and learned how to identify Oregon plant life.

With guest instructor Jeff Livick from the Timberline Ski Patrol, an expert in emergency medicine and search and rescue, the children learned compass skills, pacing and map reading in Milo McIver State park on Saturday.

Current members are fifth-graders Alayna Roberts and Alexandra Everard, sixth-grader Austin Roberts.

They all are working on leaf collections to present at the 2013 Clackamas County Fair in August.

Austin Roberts plans to exhibit a board displaying six basic knots as well.

Hicks said 4-H programs provide opportunities for children to learn leadership, develop a “sense of groupness,” and practice strong decision-making skills. “These programs are tools to build children,” said Hicks.

She added that through 4-H, kids get to go on field trips and participate in other activities for free that may no longer be available through school after budget cuts.

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