4-H Clubs learn sowing and sewing

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Butler and Lowndes County 4-H Clubs put their hands to good use this week, creating gardens and learning to sew. Coffee Cup Quilting hosted the Butler 4-H club Friday, helping participants learn the basics of using a sewing machine to make pillow cases. In Lowndes County, 4-H Club members learned how to plant their first gardens as part of the Pollinators and Plants group. 

Local 4-H agent Beth Fair works diligently to bring events and opportunities like these to the 4-H communities in Butler and Lowndes counties in an effort to inspire the four “Hs” that represent the club’s values and mission: head to clearer thinking, heart to greater loyalty, hands for larger service, and health to better living.

“4-H represents kid’s dreams,” Fair said. “It’s activities, learning, experiences, growth, development, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We are here to help them learn life skills so they will know how to live and thrive on their own, and put their best foot forward in life. It is also a great way to connect the kids in the community as often the kids all go to different schools, are in different grades and would have otherwise never met.”

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At the Pollinators and Plants day camp in Lowndes County, two students received their first container gardens with supplies while the other students continued to work on their gardens by breaking up soil, planting new seeds, watering, and learning new gardening lessons. Snow Hill Christian Church provides the land for the gardens.

“The majority of 4-H is agriculture,” said Fair. “Farming is a big industry. It plays into your everyday life. From fuel to food, from clothes to the roads you drive on. It’s all agriculture.”

The 4-H grow group focuses on pollinator gardens for food production. There are three different tiers in the learning process that each student is working towards. Tier one includes a container garden that the students must care for while journaling about their daily and weekly progress toward yielding a crop of either bell peppers, zucchini, or tomatoes. Tier three growers maintain rows of crops with the goal to sell their crops to the community in whatever manner they choose. 

“I always want to encourage the students to try something new,” Fair said. “It may be new but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it, or that it’s not for them. The only thing I ask of them is to complete the project, so they can have the experience and knowledge from that activity and then decide if it’s for them or not. And if it’s not for them, we can move forward to another activity or skill that they might be more interested in.”

At the Coffee Cup Quilting event, the girls were all smiles and determination while lining their multi-printed pillow cases with thread. One participant experimented with hand-sewing using just a needle and thread. Another participant, Alyssa Simmons, said she hopes to be able to come back and create an entire quilt. The Butler 4-H hopes to start a sewing club soon.

“It was really fun!” said 4-H member Hannah Simmons. “I met a lot of new people. I really enjoyed myself and I will definitely be coming back to another 4-H event.”

Claranna Roberts, owner of Coffee Cup Quilting, said she would love to work with the 4-H Club again because she feels the community’s youth needs these skills and she believes in supporting these efforts. 

Sharlean Briggs, the Butler County Extension coordinator, and Stacey Woodley, a volunteer who works with Extension, were both present to help with the event and enjoyed the student’s enthusiasm. 

The Butler and Lowndes 4-H Clubs enthusiastically encourage new volunteer involvement to help with any event, or to host their own. Fair said they are open to all ideas and suggestions that could be a fun and great learning experience for the club members. 

To become a 4-H member sign up at 4-H.org. A local agent will reach out after the free application is submitted. This 4-H year ends July 17 and will restart August 1. 

Another great way to support these efforts is by donating to the local 4-H club at alabama4hfoundation.org where donors can give directly to their local 4-H club and help students to have all necessary project supplies. 

“4-H helps the kids to be able to imagine possibilities for their life and career that may have never been shared with them before,” Fair said. “Now they will know what opportunities are out there for them.”