4-H Offers Summer Exchange Trip
Hopkins County young people are in the news a lot lately with wonderful opportunities to travel. Congratulations to the Sulphur Springs Wildcats on their upcoming trip to Florida in September! The Hopkins County 4-H program also has plans which have been in the works since June, 2015.
The County 4-H Exchange program began during the summer of 2012 when a group of six students and two chaperones from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, visited Sulphur Springs. The group has ties to Sulphur Springs through our own Susie and Bernie Thesing (Coffee Off the Square). The following summer, they sent a group of eleven 4-H members and four adults. That started the ball rolling for an official 4-H Exchange.
During the summer of 2014, the Exchange continued as eight Hopkins County 4-H members and four adult chaperones traveled to Eau Claire, stopping at numerous places for site-seeing along the way. These included Memphis, Tennessee to see the Peabody Hotel ducks, Alex Haley Museum, and other places of interest. Also on the route, they visited the St. Louis arch, Chicago pier, and many other fascinating historical and modern attractions. While in Wisconsin, they were able to learn about the 4-H program and demographics of their host state. Overall, the group traveled through seventeen states. Each person learned about and experienced the grandeur of our great nation. They also learned a lot about character as they traveled long hours and MANY miles in a 15-passenger van with luggage!
During the summer of 2015, a group of 4-H kids and chaperones from Smyth County, Virginia visited Hopkins County. The Extension agent has connections to Sulphur Springs through David Zahn, his former college roommate. (It’s a small world, huh?) The group of 28 stayed in host homes during their visit. Jay and I had the privilege of hosting a family of four in our home – mom, daughter, and two boys. While here, our Hopkins County 4-H’ers kept them busy with a welcome dinner provided by the Infinity 4-H Club, followed by participation in the Dairy Festival Hot Air Balloon festival. Both 4-H groups helped as crew members for the balloonists and seemed to learn a lot about the hobby. We also treated the Virginians to the Dairy Festival parade, lunch, ice cream freeze off, swim party, hay ride, dairy tour, zip-line, cookout, fishing, shopping on the square, and other activities. A tour of the AT&T Stadium and stockyards rounded out the list of activities for the Virginia group.
On the morning of their departure, we were invited to send a group to Virginia for a summer, 2016 4-H Exchange trip. The benefits of the Exchange trip are multi-faceted:
– To expose our youth to different geographical areas in our country
– To experience different foods and cultures
– To promote teamwork & citizenship
– To learn about different 4-H programs/projects in the hosting state
– To strengthen responsibility (by keeping up with their belongings, loading/unloading, etc.)
– To offer an opportunity in which most of these 4-H members would never be able to participate
To date, we have approximately 16 youth and adult chaperones who have indicated interest. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our 4-H kids! Of course, funding is always an issue. Our kids worked very diligently to raise funds for the 2014 Wisconsin trip. The list of expenses is below:
1) Rental of Vehicle(s) – enough to carry people and luggage
2) Fuel for the road trip
3) Lodging along the way (the group will stay in host homes while in Virginia)
4) Meals along the way
5) Funds to go toward expenses of visiting museums, historic sites, etc. en route
We will have another Exchange trip planning meeting on Monday, February 22 at the Extension Office. At that time, we hope to nail down specifics for the June 22 thru 30 trip. If you would like to help support these kids, we welcome your input!
“Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Visualize your dreams and stretch to reach for them” – Somewhat Daily Devotional