4-H Ambassadors have been gathering at the Fair and are preparing to speak to area third-graders about 4-H. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
4-H Ambassadors have been gathering at the Fair and are preparing to speak to area third-graders about 4-H. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Van Wert 4-H Extension leader Heather Gottke can’t say enough positive things about her 4-H Buckeye Ambassadors that are currently training to take the mission of 4-H into third-grade classrooms around the area.

Ten Ambassadors, 13 and up, are currently training to visit area classrooms to challenge elementary children to join 4-H and explain the positive benefits of doing so. Later in February and in early March they will be visiting schools to answers questions and explain the 4-H purpose and mission. The Ambassadors have been meeting at the 4-H Extension office to work on their upcoming project.

“Anyone 13 and up is welcome to join the Ambassadors,” said Gottke. “Soon, they will also be working with the project carnival.

“The Ambassadors do office training and work on public speaking,” continued Gottke.

Many of those currently involved are from the Venedocia area and either attend Delphos St. Johns Schools or Delphos Jefferson Schools.

“The main purpose of what we are doing is to promote 4-H in general,” said Abby Bonifas, a senior at Delphos St. Johns. “We go into third-grade classrooms and bring community awareness to the kids in elementary schools. “

Bonifas said that training in public speaking that students have learned as Ambassadors has added confidence to the promotions. The Ambassadors also take packets into the classrooms to distribute to students.

Cassidy Beining, a sophomore at Delphos St. Johns, is in her ninth year of 4-H.

“A lot of the students that we make presentations to don’t know what 4-H is,” said Beining.

As a member of Venedocia Lads and Lasses, Beining said that the first thing she learned when she entered 4-H was responsibility.

She noted that taking care of hogs and turkeys has not only taught her responsibility but has also challenged her with a desire to go into veterinary science.

Eighth-grader Ella Wilson from St. Johns said that she became interested in 4-H when her mother started teaching her about sewing.

“I do photography and cooking,” said Wilson. “I meet new people; I love going to club and to the fair. It’s not just meeting new people, I love participating in everything.”

Sixth-grader Marcia Parrish from Van Wert said that 4-H has been a major family affair for her.

“My aunts and everybody did it,” said Parrish, who shows pigs. “I love showing and taking care of the animals. It’s not just about the animals. It’s really fun at 4-H Camp. I like making all of the friendships.”

Family experience also had a big influence on Delphos Jefferson freshman Chloe Kroeger.

“My cousins and my dad influenced me into it,” said Kroeger. “It teaches you all kinds of responsibility, how to balance a checkbook, how to take care of animals and how to make a lot of new friends.”

“I like the experience of it, making friends and getting to see a lot of new people and learn so much from them,” said Tara Radabaugh, an eighth-grader at Delphos Jefferson. “You learn so much from all of that. You learn how to speak up and become more outgoing.”