4-H, not just for farmers


Jessica Bigelow

Members of the Polk County 4-H chapter pose while at a retreat at Iowa State University. At the retreat, members learned all of the different duties they had to do at the 4-H building at the Iowa State Fair.

When people think of 4-H, they think of farm animals, corn and the Iowa State Fair. However, the “farmer” stereotype doesn’t even come close to what 4-H really is.

Basically you take projects, and through these projects you learn about all the different things in your life,” junior 4-H member Jessica Bigelow said. Bigelow also is on the Polk County Council, which has meetings once a month.

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development program. It is for people in grades 4 to 12 to help them be more engaged in their community and world through clubs, camps, and activities.

In Polk County, it is a part of Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach program. Any student who wishes to join can contact the Polk County 4-H Extension Office.

There is a broad range of things 4-H involves. Some of them include livestock, sewing, home improvement, computer science, baking, archery and countless other areas.

Bigelow does not show animals like many members of 4-H, but still competes at the state fair in other events. “I’ve done presentations, speaking, sewing, and home improvement,” she said. Bigelow has received a blue ribbon, or “best of show” in every event she has entered. 

Junior Abby Ellerman is one of the members who shows animals. “I focus on just livestock so I get my pigs in April and my sheep late May,” Ellerman said. “I work on them at least every other day during the summer leading up to the fair.”

4-H also has other benefits, including a scholarship program for all seniors who are a part of 4-H. Not only that, it teaches valuable life skills and exposes people to situations they would not usually be in.

“I had to take one of these projects about archery,” Bigelow said. “I had to go to a shooting range,  and while I was there I met the Olympian Miranda Leek, who I wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t in 4-H.”