4-H Youth Development

Program Contact: Ashley Trevino, 4-H Program Coordinator
(509) 382-4741 • ashley.trevino@wsu.edu

4-h car wash 003 4-H is a “Healthy Alternative for Youth” to spend their time and get involved to make a difference in their life and the community! Columbia County 4-H happens because of the hard work from our adult volunteers.

4-H Club volunteer leaders work with youth throughout the year as 4-H members learn project subject skills such as horse & livestock care and management, nutrition, health, sewing, gardening, computer skills, performing arts, shooting sports, and public speaking as well as social skills of learning teamwork, presiding over meetings, community involvement and service projects, and other skills that help develop them into community leaders.

4-H is for youth, parents, and adult volunteers in the city and rural areas.

The program provides fun hands-on learning experiences for youths, Kindergarten – 12th grade.

4-H members form lifelong friendships, develop leadership skills, and practice real-life application of concepts through project work.

I want to give to 4-H

The Columbia County 4-H office gladly accepts donations of time, materials, and money to help support our local programs. If you would like, you can specify what 4-H program or event you would like your funding to support. Donations can also be anonymous. Contact the Extension for more information.

Talk to the extension office today about enrolling in a 4-H club!

The 4-H 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.

4-H Motto

“To make the Best Better”.

Volunteers E-Learning
4-H Teen Conference

Marksmen Take Aim at Gun Safety

Local 4-H club teaches shooting skills & responsibility
By, Dian Ver Valen, The Times

Kids Sharpen Shooting Skills

marksmen pic
Pictured here, from left, are: Katie White (15), Silas McClurg (10) and Chris Ver Valen (adult helper) at the club’s first shoot of the year in November 2012 at the Patit Road shooting range. Dian Ver Valen Photo

The Columbia County Marksmen is one of the county’s largest 4-H clubs with approximately 22 members (about half girls and half boys) between the ages of eight and 17.

It’s no secret that parents and other concerned adults in this country are spending a lot of time these days trying to decide on the best way to keep kids safe around guns.

For a handful of adults in Columbia County, the answer is simple: “Teach our youth how to properly handle and use guns.”

“There’s no question that kids in our rural communities will be exposed to firearms at some point in their life, whether at home or when visiting friends or relatives,” said Jeff Jenkins, a concerned Dayton parent and deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

“People in our area tend to have guns whether for hunting or personal protection,” he said. “But if we teach kids the safe way to handle a gun, the correct ways to use a gun, then we’re doing the best we can to keep them safe when around guns.”

In 2005, a handful of dedicated adults started the Columbia County Marksmen Club; a 4-H group in Dayton aimed at teaching kids gun safety and how to responsibly enjoy the sport of shooting. Over the years, the club has drawn an average of eight to 10 members each year.

Today, 4-H leaders Carolyn and John Laib, Luke White, Gene Patton, Steve Tapio, Pat Nettleton, and Jenkins and his wife, Dina, manage a group of approximately 22 youth, boys and girls, between the ages of eight and 17 who form the Columbia County Marksmen; one of the largest 4-H clubs in the county.

“It’s been a really good club,” said Carolyn Laib, who has been an adult leader with the Marksmen for many years. “The kids are learning to do something they can enjoy their whole lives.”

The surge in numbers over the last few years indicates a growing interest in the sport, she said. It can also be attributed to the large number of homeschooling families that have recently joined the club, often enrolling all the children in the family.

Fourteen-year-old Dayton resident Sydney Fowble and her 10-year-old brother, Sam, are home educated and just joined the club last year. This fall, the Marksmen elected Sydney as their 2013-2014 club president.

“I like shooting,” she said. “And we also thought it would be a good way to make friends. We just moved to Dayton in June 2012.”

Gun safety is the prime directive of the Marksmen club, but the education doesn’t end there.

Under the guidance of the club’s adult leaders, and with help from the Columbia County Shooting Association (which allows the club use of its range on Patit Road) and habitat conservation organization Pheasants Forever (which donates ammunition and use of firearms to the club), the children learn to shoot a variety of firearms. At this time they’re using .22 rifles and pistols as well as shotguns for trap shooting.

In past years the club competed in regional and national shooting competitions, but because of distance they haven’t done that in the last few years though some of the longer-standing club members have had an opportunity to compete.

Members also learn first aid, help with volunteer projects like habitat restoration, keep a detailed record book for 4-H, and give a public presentation on some aspect of firearms that interests them (such as firearms history, how to clean a gun, how a rife works, or other topics).

Pat Nettleton was one of the original Marksmen, joining a small group of gun enthusiasts, under the leadership of Robert Stearns and Columbia County Extension Director Paul Carter, nine years ago as a 14-year-old Dayton High School student.

“I learned so much in this club,” said Nettleton, who has returned to Dayton and is back with the Columbia County Marksmen as an adult leader. “I learned responsibility, record keeping, and leadership. This club pushed me more than anything else to be a mentor to the younger or less experienced kids.”

As his senior project, Nettleton gave back to the Columbia County Shooting Association in the form of donated service hours at the Patit Road range. His work included cleaning up the grounds, rebuilding target supports and putting in cement pads for the trap shooting range. He has continued to be a gun enthusiast into adulthood and is an avid hunter.

In addition to all the benefits the Marksmen club offers its members directly, the children can also use enrollment in the club to branch off into other areas of interest in 4-H such as raising rabbits, pigs, goats, sheep – as many of the members do.

“We have gotten to know a ton of people and can do all sorts of different things, which I like,” said 11 year old Dayton homeschooler Ruth Tapio.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie Laib, a junior at Dayton High School, is in her ninth year with the Marksmen and is also a member of FFA. In addition to be a practiced trap shooter, she shows her horses, a steer and pigs.

“Everyone in my family shoots,” Laib said. “I grew up with it and have always enjoyed it.”