Lamar County 4-H is gearing up for another year of education and safe, in-person activity for kids from 5-18, even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

“We will start practice for the food challenge this coming Monday for the district contest set for Oct. 29,” said Laura Graves, Family and Community Health agent for AgriLife Extension and the Lamar County 4-H adviser. “We have already had the Lone Star Club’s first meeting of the year, shotgun practice has started, and rifle and archery practice will begin after the first of year, as will public speaking and food show, clothing and textiles.”

“We have other fun things scheduled as well,” she added. “We will enter a float in the Christmas parade again this year, and there will be some social events this fall.”

Jessica Humphrey, the AgriLife Extension agent of Lamar County, will guide 4-H students in livestock showing again this year.

“The 4-State Fair in Texarkana is wrapping up this week,” Humphrey said, via email. “Evan Adams had the Grand Champion Steer, Ethan Adams had two class winners in the steer show, Emma Adams was a class winner in the steer show, Huxley Allen was third and second in class with his heifers, and Gantz Allen was second in class and Reserve Champion Non-American Comm-ercial Heifer. The lamb and goat show was Sept. 15 with 4-H members Payton Moss, Keeley Webb and Sarea Pretre competing.”

Other livestock-related events in the near future include the Red River Valley Fair beginning the last week of September, State Fair of Texas next month and the East Texas State Fair in Tyler. Lamar County 4-H will have members showing at each of these events.

Students showing livestock are currently in the process of getting state tag orders for spring shows such as Fort Worth, San Antonio, San Angelo, Houston or Austin. Validation for these animals will be Oct. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Prairiland ISD Ag Barn.

Signup for 4-H began on Sept. 1, and Graves reports that about 40 students have enrolled.

4-H sign ups continue throughout the year, but after Oct. 31, the membership fee increases, so Graves said most students are enrolled by that date. She said she expects 100 to 120 students to join again this year.

“We have welcomed another Champion School to Lamar County 4-H,” Graves said. “Wendy Dougherty at Trinity Christian Academy has taken on teaching some of our agriculture, family consumer science and leadership curriculum at TCA. This brings all of the Lamar County schools into 4-H, including home-school. Excel Christian Academy also has students in the chapter as part of their extracurricular program.”

FFA students at local high schools are welcome to be a part of 4-H, Graves said.

The Lamar County Chapter will celebrate National 4-H week Oct. 3-9 with a one day all-county event aimed at giving back to the community. Graves said she expects the project this year will be painting a building at the Lamar County Fairgrounds. 4-H members will attend the county commissioners’ meeting on Sept. 27 as that group officially recognizes the week.

After many months of pandemic zoom meetings and mailouts, Lamar County 4-H will meet in person this year, with no mandates, but with encouragement that everyone practice masking and social distancing and follow sanitary precautions already in place.

“We are following the health department’s guidelines,” Graves said. “With the stress Covid is causing the kids and their parents and everyone, it is in every conversation. We acknowledge that it is there and we are maintaining best safety practices but we still have to move forward in a positive manner.”

Graves said 4-H is a hands-on, face to face learning experience, and while more material can be accessed online, 4-H works best in person. And it is an ever-expanding learning experience, such as the popular robotics program, which will be taught this year by Amy Daniels of TCA.

“Our curriculum grows to meet society’s requirements, the needs of the workforce and career education for the kids,” she continued. “Our programs are volunteer-led so we are dependent on leaders who can teach things in the technical fields. Anyone interested in teaching technology and science-based curriculum are encouraged to get in touch with us.”

4-H has more than 100 years of experience in teaching the children of rural America and in Lamar County, the 4-H looks to be busy and productive well into the future.

To learn more about 4-H in Texas and in Lamar County, visit https://texas4-h.tamu.edu/resources/ or call 903-737-2443, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m., to 5 p.m.

Sally Boswell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6962 or at sally.boswell@theparisnews.com.

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