August 19, 2022

DeKalb County youth showcase year-long projects at Discover 4-H Day

DEKALB, Ill. — Dozens of projects completed by DeKalb County youth were on display during Discover 4-H Day on July 14 at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. Included were some projects that will be presented at the State Fair.

Nicole Groezinger, DeKalb County 4-H Program coordinator, grew up in the program and has been working with DeKalb County 4-H for more than 20 years. She said she thinks it’s neat to see the growth of the children as they evolve from 8 to 18.

“I’m a firm believer in the 4-H program,” she said. “We have a lot of life skills that are built into the program.”

Since last fall, 4-H members have been working on projects and got to interview with judges while presenting their topics on July 13 for Discover 4-H Day. Afterward, the judges scored the projects and then placed awards and ribbons by notable entries.

Participants found out how they scored when they came to the open house on July 14.

“I love them all, because the kids put their hearts and soul into it,” said Kathy Dombek, 4-H Youth Development coordinator with extension services for DeKalb, Boone and Ogle counties. “This is their project and they’re excited about it.”

Without a designated topic, the projects were planned, designed and implemented by the children in the program however they saw fit. Ranging from coding to rifle safety, agricultural experiments to fitness programs, the project showed the varied interests of youth in DeKalb County.

Katie Lo, a parent of two 4-H children, said her kids previously have done science-based projects, such as geology, as well as weather and climate. This year, however, they gravitated towards photography and nature art.

“But that’s kind of what makes it cool,” Lo said. “It’s that you can always do something different and there’s so many options.”

Lo said her favorite part of the program is that all of the community service children and teenagers get to do. Through 4-H, Lo’s children have helped out with the community gardens, provided food to a homeless shelter and planted trees in a local forest preserve.

Dombek said the community service aspect teaches leadership skills.

“I love the fact that it gives youth an opportunity to learn service leadership,” she said. “So, they’re learning to get involved, they’re learning how to be a positive leader. I think that’s great.”

Among the children who came out to the event was 9-year-old Harlan Marshall, grandson of Sharon Marshall, who participated in a 4-H program as a child.

Harlan joined in on the fun of the day by building his own air-pumped rocket-style projectile. He was able to send his projectile higher than the roof of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

“It was very frustrating at first because you had to get it tight to those little pipes so you could put the cork in it,” he said. “And at first, it didn’t go farther than two feet, but then I think I beat the record of how far it went.”

Groezinger said that 4-H is all about hands-on activities, like what Harlan did.

“We firmly believe that kids learn best when they get to do activities and do different things,” she said.

Groezinger said the program is alive and well, and they’re always looking for new members.

Discover 4-H Day is meant to give the community a taste of what the DeKalb County 4-H program is about, Groezinger said.

Evidently, the open house works.

“That’s how we learned about it,” Lo said. “We came and saw the projects one year.”

Camden Lazenby

Camden Lazenby

Camden Lazenby covers DeKalb County news for the Daily Chronicle.