Experiencing opportunities to change a lifetime, that's what 4-H is all about. 4-H provides a mission of creating environments in which young people are valued, contributing to their community. 4-H reaches out to more than 7 million youth across the nation from 5 to 19 years in age. For me, 4-H has been in my life as a 4-H member, a parent, a volunteer, a leader and an agent. 4-H has molded me into the person I am today. I learned at a very young age the importance of the 4-H pledge: "I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world." These four essential words, they are the main focus of 4-H. 4-H programming is a backbone for building youth: to lead, to learn, to grow.

To lead: There is not a more powerful life skill than leadership. Through 4-H, youth strive to become the leaders. Research shows that leadership skill development increases when 4-H members experience leadership roles beyond club level. Through leadership opportunities, youth exercise independence, youth mature in self-discipline and responsibility, youth learn to better understand themselves and become independent thinkers.

To learn: "Learn to do by doing." As stated by the 4-H slogan, this allows individuals to experience, and to mold them into who they become. No one will ever know how to become their own person if they don't overcome both the good and bad things in life. 4-H allows youth to have several great opportunities that better educate themselves to build a foundation for the rest of their life. The goal is to assist youth to acquire knowledge, develop life skills and form attitudes that enable them to become self-directed, productive members of society.

To grow: As young adults, youth learn to grow as an individual. 4-H teaches youth to be independent. 4-H is a youth development program that provides educational "hands-on" learning opportunities in life skills and leadership that help mold children from age 5 to 18 into caring, competent, responsible adult leaders of the community.

Through the participation in community service projects, youth learn how important it is to give back. As part of the 4-H pledge states, "my hands for larger service," the 4-H work youth provide communities, allows them to grow. Through community service, 4-H members touch so many people's lives in a positive light.

4-H offers opportunities for belonging young people don't just join 4-H ... they belong! 4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. The 4-H program is a backbone for building 4-H youth: to lead, to learn, to grow! Looking for an all-in-one activity? Join 4-H. Give us a call.

4-H Record Books 101

What the heck is a 4-H Record Book? 4-H Record Books are exactly that a "record" of a 4-H member's year. This is where members list their activities and record their expenses, and even write a story about their 4-H year. The Record Book 101 meeting will help answer specific questions about the 4-H Record Book template and how to place activities, leadership and community service within it. 4-H Record Book templates can be found online.

Barbara Addison, Finney County 4-H Extension agent, will present the program topics of the 4-H Permanent Record and 4-H Project Records, at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St. Please pre-register by calling the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670 or email or by noon of the same day. A minimum of pre-registrations is required to facilitate meeting room setup and materials required.

Cutting the cost of beverages

One of the easiest places to reduce your grocery bill is to cut the cost of beverages.

Beverages are one of the easiest places to save money on your food bill. In order to do this we have to be willing to let go of old, expensive attitudes and open the door to newer, cheaper ones. All beverages besides water, milk and fruit juice are luxuries. This includes Kool-Aid, soda-pop, coffee, cocoa, tea, root beer floats, cola and almost any other beverage you can imagine. They add calories, caffeine, sugar, fizz and flavor to our diet. They do not add significant nutrition. When we buy these types of luxury beverages, we are paying for someone else to combine water and flavorings for us, and then package them in a container that probably costs more than the beverage itself.

This doesn't mean we need to give up our favorite beverages. It does mean that we need to recognize our favorite drinks for what they really are, luxuries. Then it's a lot easier to put them in their place. We can become realistic about where they fit into our budgets. I do this by assigning beverages one of four labels: High Priority, Medium Priority, Low Priority and No Way. The kids quickly learn this system, and actually stick by it pretty well. Below you will find a chart of the different beverages you can have for your family. I just want to give you an idea of how to begin to change the way you think about beverages.

High Priority Tap water, dry milk, fruit juice concentrates, evaporated whole milk

Medium Priority Sugar and artificial sweetener for mixing our own beverages, unsweetened cocoa powder, store brand unsweetened fruit-flavored drink mix, bottled lemon juice, store brand instant coffee and tea, cheap ground coffee and tea bags

Low Priority Whole milk, store brand soda-pop (three-liter), store brand canned 8-vegetable juice

No Way! Fresh and refrigerated juices, chocolate milk, flavored coffee and tea, juice boxes or pouches, bottled water, name brand soda-pop and cola, most canned and bottled juices and punches.

Buying your favorite soda-pop on sale for half price is false economy when you don't have enough milk or juice to make it until next payday.

So, can your family cut some nonessential beverages from the grocery list?

Landscape strategies

Believe it or not, fall is the most important time of the year for improving your landscape.

The effort and thought you put into planning this autumn should pay great dividends in how your landscape performs next year. Improve your landscaping knowledge and work on your green thumb by attending "Landscape Strategies: Fall Plans for Spring Potential," that will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Grandstand Meeting Room at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, will present this program. Topics include: planting and caring for trees, shrubs and perennials; lawn care considerations; planting spring flowering bulbs; and garden preparation. Bring your questions and get them answered.

The program is free, but please pre-register by calling the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670 or email A minimum of 10 pre-registrations is required by Sept. 18 to facilitate meeting room setup and materials required.

Kansas State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision or hearing disability, please contact Coltrain at 272-3670 or email

Green Thumb Guidelines newsletter

An expanded newsletter that addresses all kinds of horticulture issues will be available starting in September. The Finney County Green Thumb Guidelines contain timely and educational information about all types of horticulture topics, including announcements of upcoming educational meetings.

Every newsletter has a monthly garden calendar helping you know what needs to be done for your lawn and landscape, including caring for perennials and annuals, lawn care, tree and shrub care, and garden activities. Each monthly issue averages 10 to 12 in-depth articles that focus on topics listed in the garden calendar. Many of the articles are original material written by Coltrain and the rest of the articles are written by other Extension personnel across the country.