Before every 4-H club meeting, members recite the 4-H pledge.
The pledge goes like this: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” Generations of 4-H members learn these hallowed words around 8 and 9 years old. They lisp through the pledge at these tender ages learning the words repeated after the older 4-Hers. The recitation of the pledge at every meeting instills the core values of service, dedication, and leadership.
From sewing and gardening to archery, rocketry, and livestock, there is a project for every child. You do NOT have to have livestock to participate in the program nor are participants required to exhibit at the county fair. 4-H is about so much more than animals. 4-H is community, and a perfect illustration of thriving 4-H communities in Artesia are the two 4-H Clubs: the Artesia 4-H Club and Cottonwood 4-H Club.
Folmar sisters Addy (15), Swayzee (11), and Klancee (7) of the Cottonwood Club explain that there is fun and excitement to be had for all ages and interests. The sisters have a wide range of projects that they participate in including livestock, shooting sports, public speaking, sewing, horticulture, and entomology. The girls began as Clover Buds, which is the pre-4-H program for kids ages 5-7. Klancee is the last Clover Bud in the family. She will enter as a full blown 4-H member next year. Her favorite part of Clover Bud meetings is, “doing projects like puppets and bird feeders.” She enjoys the Lead Class at the county fair. The Lead Class promotes the wool industry in Southeast New Mexico. In Lead Class, Klancee wears an ensemble made entirely of wool. Her fuzzy sheep lead, Dolly, wears a handmade wool accessory to match.
Middle sister, and veteran 4-Her, Swayzee, raises pigs, goats, and sheep to show and enjoys horticulture and entomology projects too. She also enjoys participating in the team competitions offered through 4-H. She loved the camaraderie of the latest Family and Consumer Science Contest where the local group worked together to identify all kinds of spoons, plates, and other household wares. Her passion, though, involves shooting sports using her .22 rifle. Swayzee is an avid huntress and works to improve her skills during 4-H competitions.
Eldest, Addy, is a 9 year 4-H member and now a member of FFA. Future Farmers of America is similar to the 4-H program but is for students ages 14-18. Addy focuses on her swine and lamb projects now but completed sewing projects in her younger 4-H years. In 2018 Addy’s swine project won Overall Grand Champion Market Swine. Her market lamb project of 2021 won the Reserve Champion designation. Not many folks claim to like public speaking, but Addy enjoys the Prepared Public Speaking competitions. She has explored this interest throughout her 4-H participation and carries it into her FFA membership as well. In these types of competitions, participants write four to six-minute speeches about an agriculturally related topic and present their speech to an audience. Her 8th grade speech, “Feral Hog Epidemic,” earned her the district championship and a second place finish at the state competition.
In the Artesia 4-H Club, second year member, Carter Atkins (11), explains his passion for shooting sports: “I love getting to shoot with 4-H. I like marksmanship and learning to control myself. I like talking about the sport with new friends that are also interested in it.” When asked what interests him most about shooting sports, Carter replied: “how bullets and shells work. The hammer hits the primer and sends them flying.” The coordination and discipline required to control a shell flying down the barrel of the shotgun at 1,500 feet per second is impressive, and even more so when taking into consideration how often Carter shatters a clay pigeon thrown overhead.
This spring at the county shoot and then again at district in Carlsbad, Carter placed first individual in his division and assisted his team with a first-place district win. Carter joined the shooting club in 2019. He practiced with the club as COVID-19 restrictions allowed. He took both his Hunter’s Safety class online as well as the 4-H Safety courses. Carter made great use of the slowed pace of the pandemic year finishing the safety classes he needed, but he’s been training for the year he could compete in the 4-H Shooting Club at 10 his whole life. He credits his dad, JD, and his Pop as his first teachers. They’ve taken him to hunt quail, dove, rabbit, and coyote. Carter adds, “Pop is best with rifles, but Dad and I are best at shotguns.” Carter practices about twice a week with clay pigeons. He’d like to become a professional, competitive shooter one day. When he is not at the range or on the hunt, Carter also enjoys fishing.
Carter is looking forward to the first 4-H meetings with the Artesia 4-H Club in October. They meet once a month. The meetings are led by 4-H members and not by parents. After the pledges, the kids run the meeting by parliamentary procedure. If you would like to participate in 4-H, reach out to Riann Holder of the Artesia Club or Traci Folmar of the Cottonwood Club to get started for the 2021-2022 project year!