LEESVILLE, La. -- For many, when Vernon Parish 4-H Club comes to mind, they think it revolves around agriculture. But Kem Johnson, Louisiana State University AgCenter Extension Agent in 4-H and Youth Development, said it is much more than that for the students in grades 4-12 of Vernon Parish, Louisiana.
"We are a lot more than cows and cooking," Johnson said. "We teach kids leadership development, community service, service learning, and about giving back to their communities."
The local 4-H chapter -- which according to Johnson has the largest enrollment in state with 2,000 members -- does this through various educational activities including regular 4-H Club meetings at Vernon Parish schools that encompass science, technology, dramatic arts, nutrition and fitness and outdoor skills.
Johnson said the kids also learn life skills such as communication, leadership, time management, stress management, independence and more.
"It's for them to develop those life skills they need to be successful adults and the next leaders of tomorrow," Johnson said.
Vernon Parish 4-H Club also presents scholarship funds to graduating seniors for higher education opportunities at a college or university or for vocational training. In 2018, the club awarded more than $7,000 in scholarships.
Additionally, the Vernon Parish 4-H Club works with Fort Polk Child and Youth Services to provide the Cloverbuds program to younger kids from Fort Polk in kindergarten through third grade. Johnson stressed the importance of having Cloverbuds available to military children of all ages.
"Military kids move often so being able to be a part of 4-H here and wherever they go is important," she said. "They have something to hold on to, and give them that sense of belonging."
Johnson hopes the Vernon Parish 4-H Club continues to grow in the future.
"We want to reach out to more kids because 4-H has a lot to offer," Johnson said. "We want people to understand that there is something in 4-H for everyone."