BENTON -- Local clubs have been celebrating the centennial of the national 4-H organization all year long. The big gala may be in October, but the Scott County 4-H clubs will celebrate Saturday, during Achievement Day at the Benton Neighbor Day.
Scott County 4-H is comprised of the New Hamburg Eager Beavers, Tri-City Willing Workers, Scott County 4-H Rodeo, Benton Handy Helpers and the River Ridge 4-H.
"It's a good program, and it has such a family support," said Pat Moore, New Hamburg Eager Beavers club leader. "It includes the whole family -- and in this day and time, we need to get back to the family basics."
Four-H also includes family traditions. Former member Cheri Klipfel, now Benton Handy Helpers club leader, and her family hold a five-generational membership. Klipfel, her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and her two daughters have all been involved in the club, she said.
All four of Moore's children were 4-H members and now two of her daughters are project leaders. Some of Moore's grandchildren are also members, she said.
"Commitment is one of the main things about the club," Klipfel noted. "This is strictly volunteer. It teaches the kids about sticking with something."
Moore said the kids learn by doing things. It's really hands-on, she added.
In honor of the centennial, project leader Berniece Kern designed a banner and it was sent to the State Fair in Sedalia to represent Scott County 4-H. They also held a flag raising ceremony in January. Missouri Rep. Peter Myers attended the occasion, and they've honored past 4-H members, Moore said.
Among other things the club teaches are leadership skills, commitment, citizenship, responsibility and confidence. And whether you like food, animals or crafts, 4-H offers something for everyone, as well as family involvement, Moore said.
"Last year we planted bushes in front of St. Denis School," Klipfel recalled. "This year the kids were able to see how they had grown and how everything works."
Probably the biggest change Moore has seen through the years is the club's population. "In the beginning it was basically rural country kids, and now the town and city kids are a part of the club. We have something for everybody," Moore said.
Moore isn't exaggerating. Scott County's 4-H Rodeo Club is living proof. Jerry Dockins of Bloomfield helped originate the first Scott County 4-H rodeo club about 10 years ago. Its focus is primarily on riding, roping and barrel racing animals, he said.
"We could do the other thinks like the crafts and woodworking, but we just chose to focus on rodeo," said Dockins, who is retiring after this year. "We're true rodeo people."
Dockins assures club members learn about the rodeo, but they're also required to attend monthly meetings and keep a project log of their rodeo expenses throughout the year.
Over the years volunteer leaders like Dockins, Moore and Klipfel have also received benefits from the club.
Klipfel has been a project leader for foods classes for years. "I have two boys in my foods class. They're sophomores in high school and they've already told me they're signing up next year," she laughed. "They said, 'We really learned a lot in your class last year. It really helped when we took FACS (family and consumer science). We knew how to do things and the other guys didn't.' I was proud," Klipfel admitted.
Klipfel added that other volunteers and parents who participate keep the club active.
A couple of years ago, Moore received the Fred Graham Award, a community service appreciation award, after she was nominated by her club. "It really gave me a shot in the arm to keep going, and it made me feel special," she said. "That's why I keep going."
Scott County members will be given the opportunity to display their projects and win awards at the Benton Neighbor Day. The fun begins around 8 a.m. Saturday when members register their projects. Around 9 a.m. the exhibits are closed for judging. After a parade through Benton, the exhibits are open for public viewing until 6 p.m.
One other annual event is Share the Fun, which is comprised of skits put on by the Eager Beavers, and one of this year's skits will incorporate 100 years of 4-H, Moore said. The public is invited to attend all of Saturday's events.
"I love 4-H," Klipfel said. "If I didn't like it so much, I wouldn't be doing it."