Mom single-handedly starts animal, farming club for kids
When Debbie Cooper asked her seven-year-old daughter Julia what extracurricular activities she’d like to do, Julia told her she wanted to join a lizard club.
“She’d been exposed to sports and other activities, but she’s such an animal lover at heart. It always came back to chickens, sheep and lizards,” Cooper says.
Not sure if such a club existed, Cooper turned to the Internet to find something suitable. When she came across the 4-H Club she knew it would be a good match.
“I was shocked to find out there was no 4-H club in Metchosin and that the nearest club was in Central Saanich. It’s just too far away to go for a lot of people,” Cooper says. “So I decided to start one on the West Shore.”
Cooper started asking around and determined there was enough interest to start a club in Metchosin, so she started training to become an official 4-H leader. She completed her training last week.
“I had to do a panel interview, a criminal records check and the one day training,” Cooper says. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’m sure glad to know they have such high standards for leaders. It’s all about the safety of the children at the end of the day.”
After reading her three-inch-thick manual and undergoing training, Cooper realized what she liked most about the program had less to do with farm animals and more to do with helping children learn skills and tools they’d use throughout their entire lives.
“Yes, they learn about animals, and we’ll be covering swine, dogs, goats and horses in the unit we’re covering this year, but there’s also a section on public speaking, photography, bicycle safety and clothing and fabrics,” she says.
Beginning Jan. 26, and running every fourth Wednesday evening until October, the 4-H Cloverbuds will meet at the Metchosin Community House on Happy Valley Road.
The Cloverbuds are open to any kids in Greater Victoria ages six to eight, who want to learn about animals and more.
“When I was a kid growing up in Esquimalt, I thought you had to own animals and live on a farm to be part of 4-H,” Cooper said. “But that is just not true. 4-H is about so much more than animals.”
As the children get older and move along in the program, the curriculum branches off and they can chose what they’d like to focus on.
“I hope that the kids will not only be excited to come each week, but that they will leave having learned something they wouldn’t have learned at school and have more self-confidence than when they came in,” Cooper said.
Registration is $140 for the year, $75 of which goes directly to 4-H. The remainder will go to rent the space, purchase supplies and pay for field trips. “We’re starting from scratch here, we’ve got absolutely nothing,” Cooper said.
Twenty children are already signed up. Call Debbie Cooper at 250-478-4677 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register or get more information.