Taste of the Hawaiian Range debuts a daytime agriculture festival before this year’s Taste gala and the island’s 4-H are exhibiting an educational livestock display 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. Attendees can view a variety of farm animals—such as cows, sheep, goats and pigs—during the outdoor festival at the YMCA Minuke Ole Park behind Parker Ranch Center in Waimea. Informational signs will explain how each animal is used to help feed our island.
This year marks a century of 4-H in Hawaii; the state’s first 4-H livestock club opened in 1918. A program of the University of Hawai‘i’s Cooperative Extension Service, The Hawaii State 4-H Program is guided by the three, national 4-H mandates of healthy living, science and citizenship. 4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health for Life! On the Big Isle, there are nearly 20 4-H clubs and each focuses on a choice of interest and projects.
Big Isle’s 4-H Livestock Clubs
The 4-H livestock program provides youths aged 5-18 with hands-on learning opportunities by raising and training livestock. Participants learn humane animal husbandry skills and record-keeping. Students are responsible for the financial planning of their project, plus the daily care, feeding and training of their project animals.
“4-H assists our young people in developing important life skills while working on economically valuable, hands-on projects,” notes Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch and 4-H Livestock Association chairperson. “We must strongly support agricultural education and experiences for our young people if we are to increase Hawai‘i’s food sustainability.”
The Big Island has four livestock clubs: the Country Clovers, the Hilo Rain Makers, Ka’u Livestock and Hamakua Livestock.
Beyond 4-H Livestock
Hawai‘i 4-H clubs offer youth a variety of different project opportunities. Based on location, club interests could involve cooking and sewing skills, gardening, robotics, history, shooting sports like rifle and archery, and agricultural travel. Youth explore their interests through fun, engaging, hands-on learning experiences led by mentors/leaders.
“Each club chooses projects based on what they want to learn and be involved in,” says Joan Chong, extension coordinator based out of Kainaliu-Kona. There are also Big Isle clubs focusing on specific interests besides livestock, including the Kohala 4-H Horse Club, the Paradise Pups (dogs) and the Hawai‘i Island 4H Shooting Sports Club. Clubs choose their own names too, like the Mauka Stars, the Busy Bee Buddies, the Creative Explorers, Na Honu and the 4-H Exchange. While 4-H is open to youth aged 5-18, the 4-H Cloverbud program is geared to children ages 5-8.
All activities provide learn-by-doing experiences and often involve leadership and community service. For example, Kona’s Fire Nation 4-H Club has been involved with a gardening service project to benefit the homeless community. Club leader Janice Blaber says club members, which are primarily middle school students at Kona-area schools, created 10 garden beds in May for Hale Kikaha, the homeless service center in Kailua-Kona. To raise funds to purchase soil and seeds to complete the project, club members had a July pop-up shop, selling bakery goods and handmade jewelry. The club details the project at https://may19gardenbuild.weebly.com.
Based out of Hilo, Becky Settlage is the UH at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources county extension service 4-H agent for youth development and livestock. She says a current 4-H project is a Giant Fruit & Vegetable Contest that culminates September 22 at the Hawai‘i County Fair in Hilo. 4-Hers are hoping to produce the largest sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon and other food plants of their choice. “The contest is science-based and encourages agriculture, which is important for food sustainability,” notes Settlage. “It gets kids outside and moving.”
In an effort to teach and excite youth about Hawai‘i agriculture and career opportunities, 4-H bused East Hawai‘i fourth graders to Hilo’s Sangha Hall to interact with volunteers from local ag organizations, agencies and commodity groups. A county grant funded these five recent AGventure programs and they reached over 1300 students. “AGventures was a great program,” notes Settlage.
She adds, “There are many benefits of 4-H. Kids learn valuable life skills and it’s a great way to meet people, team up and have fun.”
Want to Join 4-H?
The new 4-H year starts statewide on October 1. For more info on the Big Isle’s 4-H opportunities and to enroll, visit http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ctahr/4h/. Hawai‘i Island contacts are Settlage at 969-8213 in East Hawai‘i and Chong at 322-0164 in West Hawai‘i.
Photos by Becky Settlage