Q & A with Carrollton 4-H Club leader Lynda Jones

Q & A with Carrollton 4-H Club leader Lynda Jones
Past and present leaders of the Carrollton 4-H Club gather for anniversary dinner. Front row from left, Loretta Basler and Dave Basler. Back row from left, Mike Alster, Rose Freberthauser, Carol Showalter, Janet Gross, Dave Victor and Lynda Jones. (Lynda Jones)

The Carrollton 4-H Club, one of 33 4-H clubs in Carroll County, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The club has 45 members, five adult leaders —Lynda Jones, Loretta Basler, Dave Basler, Mike Alster and Dave Victor —and many dedicated parents.

The club typically meets the first Monday of the month at St. John's Lutheran Church in Westminster and the meeting is conducted entirely by the elected club officers who assume office each January. This year's club president is 15-year-old Caroline MacLean-Blevins, of Westminster.


According to Jones, each of the club's meetings has a theme. For example, one month's theme might be horticulture, with all of the workshops centered around plants. Jones said a 4-H'er might give an illustrated talk about plant disease and then another member may teach the group how to plant an herb garden or make a terrarium.

The Carroll County Times caught up with Jones to talk about Carrollton 4-H's anniversary and this year's Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, being held July 30 through Aug. 5.

How did the club come to be?

The Carrollton 4-H Club emerged in 1966 when two loosely-formed local 4-H clubs joined forces. Since that time, much has changed in society yet the goals and objectives of the club remain the same. The club is committed to excellence, strives to make the best better and encourages all members to learn by doing.

The overall goal of the 4-H program is to develop citizenship, responsibility and life skills. Members (age 5 to 18) are encouraged to try new projects, take on new responsibilities, and learn skills that they can apply to everyday life. Many people believe that the 4-H program is only designed for youth who live on a farm. In fact, the opposite is true. Most 4-H members do not live on a farm. Many live in the suburbs or even in urban settings.

Carrollton 4-H Club is a general interest club. This means that our members have very diverse interests. We have members who like to show livestock, others that enjoy baking, and still others that embrace robotics and technology. Most of our members participate in several project areas.

As a whole, our club strongly encourages all members to serve the community and to strengthen their public speaking skills. We achieve these goals by offering several community service opportunities throughout the year

Is there an affiliation between the Carrollton 4-H Club and the other 4-H clubs in the county?

Yes, absolutely. All clubs are part of the overall 4-H Youth Development Program. There are many opportunities for members of different clubs to work together or even compete against each other throughout the year. For example, last year, the Chevonaire 4-H Dairy Goat Club visited one of our monthly meetings. They brought a dairy goat with them for our club members to view and admire. Since Carrollton only had members who had experience with market (meat) goats it was a chance for our members to learn valuable information about dairy goats and maybe even spark a new interest for our members. It also gave the Chevonaire Dairy Goat Club members a chance to see how our club members presided over a business meeting. All in all it gave club members from both clubs a chance to learn from one another.

Another good example of clubs interacting is through friendly competition at the county, state, and national levels. This could occur at public speaking events, robotics competitions, or fairs just to name a few. At the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, clubs compete against each other in several categories. Some of these categories include Banner, Booth, Fair Beautification, Parade Float, Shoebox Float, Club Record Books and more.

Let's use the Fair Beautification Project as an example. These are exhibits scattered around the fairgrounds that are designed to beautify and enhance the fair atmosphere. These exhibits are designed by and built entirely by 4-H club members. The goal behind the exhibit is to create a scene that draws attention to and promotes 4-H to the community. Independent judges evaluate and score each entry and then the ribbons are awarded. So, you can see that clubs are competing against each other for the best score, however, they are really trying to convey a larger message to the public about the wonders of the 4-H program in general.

How do you plan on celebrating the club's 50th anniversary at the fair?

This year, our club entries in the fair like the booth, banner, and float will all use the club's 50th Anniversary as their underlying theme to promote 4-H to the community.

Since this is a big anniversary for our club, we have had other special events to mark the occasion. On May 1, we held our annual Club Achievement Dinner. This year, we invited Carrollton alumni to join us. Many former Carrollton 4-H members spoke about their wonderful memories of 4-H. They attributed much of their successes in life to little things that they learned during their years in 4-H. All believed that their confidence soared and their public speaking skills were greatly enhanced by the 4-H Program. County Commissioner Dick Weaver, who is himself a former Carrollton 4-H member, praised the program and recalled fond memories of not only his experiences in 4-H but also his two sons, Chris and Chip.


Why should people attend the fair?

I think people should attend the fair because it celebrates the successes of today's youth and it sends a message to the community that we care about and encourage our youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. When attending the fair, it helps to know some of the background that goes into each project. Exhibitors don't just show up with their projects and drop them off. Planning a project begins long before the fair.

Take for instance a member who decides that they want to show poultry at the fair. He or she doesn't just go out and buy a live hen on July 31 and bring it to the fair on August 1. The process may begin months before the fair. Many decisions have to be made. "Do I want to buy fertilized eggs, incubate them, and hopefully hatch my own chick? What kind of hen do I want? Do I have the proper equipment and housing to raise chicks? Where should I buy my chicks from? What type of feed should I use? Are my chicks happy and healthy? Which hen(s) should I exhibit at the fair?"

As you can see many projects are a long-term commitment. Members must be responsible, caring, and willing to work with others to learn and achieve their goals. All four "H's" come into play: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

The 4-H Pledge is: I Pledge My Head to Clearer Thinking, My Heart to Greater Loyalty, My Hands to Larger Service, and My Health to Better Living for: My Club, My Community, My Country, and My World.