4-H: trying to make the best better

A plethora of sports are available to Marshfield High School students throughout the school year, but it is less-known that many students take part in 4-H, a club that focuses on agriculture and hands-on learning. There are over 300 members of the 4-H community in Coos County.

Overall, Oregon has been a leader in 4-H since its inception over 100 years ago, and is an important part of the state’s culture and history, providing young people with an opportunity to learn about the land and its inhabitants. Founded in 1902, 4-H is an incredibly valuable program, offering k-12 students the opportunity to engage in a variety of projects such as gardening, raising animals,  and pursuing projects related to science, engineering, and technology. These projects are presented to judges, and then compete at bigger levels as seen fit. Through their projects, the 4-H program provides a safe environment for young people to explore their interests, teaching students about responsibility, conservation, and sustainability.  

Ali Dubisar, 4-H coordinator in Coos County, said a common hands-on activity can include a photography day, or even taking goats on a hike together. She quickly rose to the challenge of leadership with 4-H, taking on increased responsibility after only being involved for a few years. 

“I decided to get involved with 4H because I saw a need in our club that I was able to fulfill,” said Dubisar. 

She is confident that the young people of Coos County have the potential to become the next generations of farmers and believes that, with the right support and resources, these individuals have the capability to reach their own goals and become successful in the agricultural industry. Dubisar feels that service has a significant impact on the community. Examples include Christmas in Coquille, buying gifts for families from the Tree of Joy, and bringing 4-H animals to community events. 

“Community service is such important work no matter how small the job may feel,” she said. 

Ella Jane Brigham-Saunders, a senior at MHS, was motivated to join 4-H when she purchased a goat that she wanted to show off to the community. The program became an incredibly important part of her life, pairing her with like-minded people who share a passion for animals and the excitement of competitions.

“I have learned a lot of important skills, but one of the most important things I have learned is having confidence in myself and my public speaking, baking, and showmanship skills,” she said. 

Like people, animals can sometimes be difficult to work with and train. Staying focused and determined is essential for success. It requires participation from not only students, but also their families.

“It all started when my daughters first participated, I was totally clueless,” said Randy Hoffine, whose two daughters raise and show lambs with 4-H. “I decided to be an assistant to the leader the next time we got involved, which was 2018-2019.” 

While he was not overly familiar with 4-H at first, he saw that it could provide his two children with the opportunity to make some money, as well as teach them some invaluable skills. Both of his daughters, Jena and Hope, auction their animals off annually. 

“Sometimes it is extra early or really late. Regardless of whether you feel like it or not, the critters ned fed in the morning and evening,” Hoffine said. “Four-H has been great for the kids to learn about discipline, caring for the animals, responsibility, interacting with adults, salesmanship, and hard work.”