Thanks to a dream, some grants, donations from local businesses and a lot of support from the community and the school, members of the South Rock Creek 4-H Club in Pottawatomie County are learning about gardening, food production and much more.
Linda Goodson serves as the club’s volunteer leader, a role she gladly takes on for the second time.
“I was a volunteer leader here at South Rock Creek School years ago when my kids were 4-H age, but there wasn’t an active club when my grandkids got to be 4-H age and wanted to show sheep,” Goodson said. “So, I decided to start another club and here we are.”
South Rock Creek School is a rural school in Pottawatomie County, so Goodson was not sure of the response she would get when starting the club last year. But she should not have worried. Currently, she has about 40 members in the club.
“I really thought it would just be my grandkids and their best friends and we’d have six or eight kids in the club,” Goodson said. “The great response really told me that the parents saw a need for 4-H.”
Channing Goodson said she was excited to have a 4-H club at her school.
“We were all excited because we saw some other friends at different schools had 4-H and we wanted that, too,” Channing said. “My grandma was my dad’s 4-H leader and she cared about it so much. And now it’s a part of her grandchildren’s life. Being in 4-H is so much fun.”
Goodson, an avid gardener, said she has been able to combine her passion for horticulture with her love of children and create something good at South Rock Creek School. She said the garden was a dream she had, so she took a shot, asked for help and it evolved. The positive response from everyone involved, from parents and teachers to local businesses and community leaders has made this dream a reality.
The garden, which is located right on school grounds, serves as the headquarters for the club. But it is not only the club members who benefit from it. Teachers bring their students outside and use the garden area as an extended classroom.
“Everyone benefits from the garden, even if they aren’t involved in 4-H,” Goodson said. “Our teachers use the garden as an extension of their classrooms and take their students outside to do lessons in the garden. They definitely see it as an additional learning opportunity,” she said. “The vegetables we grow are used in the cafeteria, so all of our students benefit from that.”
Katie Miller, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension 4-H educator in Pottawatomie County, said the garden is impressive.
“I knew Linda had some great ideas, but it’s sure impressive seeing the finished product,” Miller said. “It’s so refreshing to see the kids enjoying everything that 4-H is. There are project areas for everyone. 4-H isn’t just about livestock. It’s science and technology and public speaking and so much more. Linda is incorporating all of what 4-H is into this club.”
Carla Smith is the horticulture educator Pottawatomie County and said she was happy to help when Goodson came to her asking for ideas.
“Linda has been a gardener for a long time, so she already knew a lot of what it would take for the garden to be successful,” Smith said. “It’s projects like this that are so beneficial to students. Not everyone learns the same way. The kids can come out here for hands-on learning. They can touch and feel and smell, and this may be an easier way for them to learn.”
Gardening is not the only thing the club focuses on. They do all things 4-H related. At a recent meeting, some of the group potted succulents, while others worked on a robotics project or painted kindness rocks that were placed in the garden. The club members also built a scarecrow and entered it in the Pottawatomie County fair. The scarecrow now lives in the garden.
Jacee Townsend joined the club last year and has a big interest in gardening and other aspects of 4-H.
“I’ve learned that 4-H is more than just showing animals. It’s speeches and lots of other fun stuff,” Townsend said.
Goodson said she is excited about this upcoming 4-H year and seeing her club members learn and grow.
“There are so many facets of 4-H and the program offers something for everyone,” Goodson said. “I’m already seeing a lot of growth in these kids.”
For more information about the South Rock Creek School 4-H club, contact the Pottawatomie County OSU Cooperative Extension office at 405-273-7683. More information about the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program is available online at 4h.okstate.edu.