Baa-baa basis for learning
AUSTIN, Minn. — Mower County 4-H program coordinator April VonRuden and an army of volunteers have worked to put together a program that encourages curiosity and excitement about 4-H for those just starting with the organization.
AUSTIN, Minn. — First there were squeals and squawks.
Youngsters in kindergarten through second grade entered the 4-H building on the Mower County Fairgrounds for their monthly Cloverbud Adventure meeting March 17 and were greeted a makeshift pen of upended tables. When they peeked inside, there was quite the sight: three prim little lambs decked out to the nines. Orphan lambs Susan, Louise and Ellie Mae, ranging from four to six weeks old and present courtesy of Rae Ann Peterson, were wearing purple diapers, hand-knit wool sweaters and sequined green bows around their necks.
Over the course of the next two hours, eyes widened, hands shot in the air and jaws dropped; lambs were fed, connections were made and ideas were planted.
Mower County 4-H program coordinator April VonRuden and an army of volunteers have worked to put together a program that encourages curiosity and excitement about 4-H for those just starting with the organization.
"The goal is to get them to learn about as many project areas as possible," VonRuden said. "We try to give them catchy names and talk about the whole spectrum of an area."
March's meeting was dubbed Wool Wonderland. Other meetings have covered poultry (Turkey Time!) and the swine industry (Pork Party), and other livestock-related topics. As spring and summer come around, other project areas like photography and plants will get the
Organizers and volunteers, including several 4-H Ambassadors, covered an array of topics around sheep and wool and kept things moving and interesting for the kids.
First up was feeding the lambs and learning that sometimes the lambs prefer warm milk. Sheep farmer Bob VanPelt asked for volunteers for the midnight and 4 a.m. bottle feedings the young lambs will be waiting for and he got several volunteers.
The children were full of questions about sheep, ranging from "how can lambs get sick" (just like you or I) to Lhow do you shear a sheep" (quickly).
They got to see a freshly sheared fleece and drew the connection that it had straw and hay in it because that's what the sheep was laying on when it was sheared. A fiber sample to take home was treasured and pet while the kids learned some about spinning from Twilight Treadler spinning club member Betty O'Brien, who spun and talked about different classes of fiber.
A weaving craft, creating an edible lamb from Rice Krispie bars and marshmallows, coloring pages and a story rounded out the day.
Throughout, the kids were curious, engaged and learning. Mower County's Cloverbud Adventures typically draw 20 to 25 youngsters every month. Kids are encouraged to bring a friend, even if the friend isn't already part of 4-H. Often by the end, parents are signing up the visiting child to be part of the organization, VonRuden said.
If you go
All Mower County children in kindergarten through second grade are welcome at Cloverbud Adventures. At the next meeting, the participants will Sprout into Spring.
The meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. April 28 at the Mower County 4-H Building on the Mower County Fairgrounds
RSVP to the Mower County Extension office at 507-437-9552.
To learn about the Twilight Treadlers, contact Rae Ann Peterson at 507-583-2945 or 507-440-6093.