County officials to grow 4-H


As cattle lined each side of a small warehouse, Moriah Johnson stayed close to her large, brown cow, making sure it stayed hydrated at the Johnson County Fair on Monday.

Moriah, who has been involved in 4-H for approximately eight years, is showcasing her cow and goat for the first time at the fair.

The Oxford resident is one of the more than 400 members of the Johnson County 4-H club.

This year, Camie Marshek, the Johnson County youth outreach educator, said the county’s extension office added a number of new working exhibits and educational presentations, such as a rocket launch, to the fair.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the kids participating in things non-livestock, non-agriculture,” she said. “Specifically, the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics part is really what’s been booming the most the past couple of years.”

Becky Nibe, program coordinator with Iowa State 4-H, said there are 24,000 young people statewide who are enrolled in 4-H community clubs this past year.

However, approximately 100,000 young people were involved with different 4-H programs last year, Nibe said, which is more than 20 percent of young people who are in grades K-12 in Iowa.

“The membership has held steady for the past few years,” Nibe said. “But it has dropped overall for the past 10 years.”

There were 105,538 youths in the United States registered in 4-H, according to a 2012 National 4-H Enrollment Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research, Education, and Economics Information System.

In Johnson County, there were 429 members of the 4-H club, and Marshek said that number has stayed the same this year.

Johnson County was ranked No. 6 in the state for number of 4-H members, Nibe said.

“To surrounding counties, it’s pretty high,” Nibe said, noting that Linn County had 359 club members last year.

However, Marshek — who took her position this past Janurary — said she wants to continue to grow the program this coming year.

Moriah, who has been exclusively involved with the agriculture part of 4-H, said she only knew about 4-H and became involved because her father and her brothers did it when they were growing up.

“I don’t think people understand that 4-H just isn’t about livestock,” Marshek said. “There’s so much more to it. We had presentations and extemp speaking, we have people restore things and upholstery, there’s technology, robotics, there’s just so many different aspects that I don’t think people know about so we’re hoping to make more of a presence in the school.”

Marshek said she hopes to work with the Iowa City School District, as well as other school districts to showcase the different programs 4-H offers.

She said that this fall, officials are hoping to organize a “4-H find out” with the school districts so students can get more of an idea of what is offered.

Although Moriah’s last year to participate in the county fair will be next year, she said she hopes to continue helping her family with competitions.

“I will have little cousins who will still be involved,” she said. “So I’ll still be here.”

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