In addition to raising animals, the Magnolia 4-H club offers children a wide range of experiences, from photography, woodworking and cooking to animal judging, shooting sports and leadership.
“There is so much that 4-H has to offer, and you don’t even have to own an animal,” club manager Victoria Hatcher said.
The Magnolia 4-H club, with 165 children, is one of the largest of the 18 4-H clubs in Montgomery County, Hatcher said. The nonprofit club meets the second Monday of each month for a meeting conducted by elected student leaders.
“The kids run the meeting,” said Vickie Minter, who is the parent organizer of the club’s annual fundraiser and mother of the club’s president. “They set the agenda and follow parliamentary procedure.”
The students have the option to participate in a variety of activities and projects, most of which are led by a parent volunteer. The largest project groups in the Magnolia club are swine, shooting sports, and lamb and goats.
Amy Smith runs the photography group for the Magnolia club. She holds monthly classes with 10 students ages 8 to 14.
“We cover everything from architecture to portraits to animals to landscape and everything in between,” said Smith, who is a professional photographer in Magnolia. “They learn the basic camera functions. They shoot in manual mode. They’re really getting a hands-on class. They are learning about shutter speed and aperture.”
Smith said 4-H was the first club she joined when she moved to Magnolia three years ago. Her children were involved in livestock judging for two years, she said.
“It’s so rewarding to see them study hard and go execute that and come home with ribbons,” Smith said. “I definitely think 4-H is a confidence booster. Whether it’s photography or livestock or shooting sports—nothing’s more awesome than shooting and hitting it right on the bullseye. It’s so neat to watch them learn and get it. And they enjoy it.”
4-H students enter their projects at fairs and livestock shows, both regionally and statewide. 4-H students also participate in community service projects throughout the year, including helping raise money for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.
In addition, students learn career-building skills and gain exposure to future job opportunities, 4-H leaders said.
“If you keep up with livestock judging, there’s a career in that,” Smith said. “To get that experience now is fabulous.”
March 28–29, Magnolia Community Horse Club & Arena. 31245 Friendship Drive, Magnolia
Events include horse races, barrels, silent auction and a large variety of vendors. The event helps the 4-H club raise money to purchase equipment, such as a camera for the photography group and pig clippers for the swine group. In addition, the fundraiser pays for $1,500 scholarships awarded to each senior in good-standing in the club.