Many provide or help to coordinate emergency services, such as Hopkins County Community Chest, Hopkins County Christian Alliance, Shelter Agencies for Families in East Texas (SAFE-T), Winnsboro Community Resource Center, CANHelp, Lake Country Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, Mothers Against Drunk Driving of East Texas Region and Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center.
Some provide health, mental health, intervention, education, treatment and supplemental services, including East Texas Council on Alcohol/Drug Abuse, Heritage Outreach Ministry Foundation, Our Place/Lakes Region Mental Health Mental Rehabilitation, North Texas Youth Connection, Meal-A-Day and The Dinner Bell.
Others are specifically for the county’s youth and their families: Teen Court, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, Northeast Texas-Southeast Oklahoma Trails Council of Boy Scouts of America and Boys and Girls Club of Hopkins County. Another is Hopkins County 4-H, which has been allocated $3,000 of this year’s $155,000 HCUW campaign goal.
“We don’t get any money from anywhere else except United Way. That helps with camp. It helps pay enrollment fees for students who need help; that goes directly to A&M,” Extension Agent Johanna Hicks, who along with Extension Agent Mario Villarino oversee the county 4-H program, said of the HCUW’s donation to support the local 4-H program. “United Way is very important. It stays local, right here with out local kids. We are very appreciative to United Way for 4-H.”
Last year, Hopkins County 4-H served 2,200 youth across the county through a variety of projects, including Ag in the Classroom, 4-H clubs, service learning projects, youth leadership development and camps.
The 4-H program is centered around the four Hs which the four leaves on the clover represent: head, heart, hands and health.
“For the head, 4-H teaches youth to think on their feet, plan ahead, to work with their project. Hands, we have lots of hands-on learning, projects, clothing, public speaking, food, leadership, community service. With heart, we teach them to give back to the community. We’ll be doing Stockings for Soldiers again. We filled 30 last year. For National 4-H Week, we provided green and white popcorn to the commissioners for their support of Extension. Health — we teach them to be healthy, from food safety to raising animals, safe handling of meat and safe cooking. At the market on the square, customers can buy meat from 4-H projects raised,” she said.“We give a brochure with that so they are not only learning, but teaching.”
Hopkins County has four 4-H clubs, clubs that meet in Dike, Miller Grove, Sulphur Springs Elementary and Stars of Texas which also meets in Sulphur Springs. Clubs meet once a month except during the summer. Meetings generally include business and community service projects and sometimes include a speaker and an activity. Project work is conducted by 4-H members on their time, outside of the monthly meetings.
Some projects include raising, showing and selling livestock, a food show, fashion, photograph, public speaking, educational presentations, robotics, food and dairy. 4-Hers also are involved in equestrian events, fashion, quiz and judging events, shooting sports, workshops, food programs, dairy events, the state fair, veterinary science, tours and many other interests.
“4-H is a great opportunity for kids. It teaches them to speak in front of an audience, to be prepared,” Hicks added.
Leadership roles are encouraged. 4-H members have the opportunity each year to seek a club office. Certain members also are selected to the 4-H County Council, which meets every two months so the various clubs can collaborate to plan county-wide events and community service activities. Then there’s the Multi-County 4-H Council to coordinate with youth from other areas.
Each family receives mailed to their home, and often in email as well, newsletters at least every two months to update 4-H members on upcoming activities.
“4-H trains youth to be good, reliable, contributing citizens,” Hicks noted.
Members of 4-H also have opportunities to apply for scholarships through the national 4-H program. At least two seniors from Hopkins County schools have received scholarship funds, money contributed by donors across the United States for 4-H scholarships, since 2010.
Hicks took as a compliment a comment from an Extension colleague not so long ago.
“He said, ‘Johanna, you just bleed green.’ I love it,” she said. “I think 4-H is a wonderful opportunity for kids.”
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