GOLIAD – In Goliad County, 4-H activities have a popularity that is as big as the Lone Star State, with about 200 children between the ages of 5 and 18 participating.
Tracy Berger, who has worked for the Texas Agrilife Extension Office in Goliad for 13 years, has been the program assistant helping to direct local 4-H activities since 2012.
“It’s a great program for the kids to be involved in, but it’s so much more than just showing animals,” Berger said. “There are livestock shows throughout the area and the state where kids show animals, but there are also programs such as food nutrition, photography, shooting sports. There are all kinds of different things for them to do.”
Community service is an important part of the program as well, with a variety of charity work geared to making the area a better place to live.
Beyond that, Berger said 4-H also offers an opportunity for shy kids to blossom into confident leaders.
“Sometimes you see the little ones who are just starting out and they are so terrified,” Berger said. “By the time they get to high school and have been in the program for a while, they have no problem speaking in front of a group. It’s amazing to see that.”
Goliad County currently has seven active 4-H clubs.
“For a small county, we have a lot of participation,” Berger said. “Some join and aren’t as active, but there really are a lot of different opportunities for the kids, and there are some things you can do online, too.”
Contests such as food nutrition and consumer decision making help the students learn valuable information for their lives and to share with others, too, she said.
Many of Goliad County’s 4-H members advance to compete at the district and state level, and have represented the area well, Berger said.
“The junior level participants can advance to the district level while the senior level kids have the chance to advance to state competition in College Station,” she said.
Among those who compete in 4-H events outside the area, there is the opportunity for showing animals in Dallas at the Texas State Fair, and to compete in shooting sports in San Antonio and Houston, to name just a couple of events.
“There are so many different projects in 4-H,” Berger said. “In the photography contest we send kids to district and anybody can enter. Just getting kids involved in these different activities and in community service is important. There are also scholarship opportunities.
“People in the community see our kids and say, ‘Oh, you’re in 4-H. You must be a great kid. That’s usually the case. It really helps them develop into great kids.”