4-Hers raise funds for trip to National Congress

Posted: Thursday, November 16, 2006

One of the objectives of three central Kenai Peninsula high school girls planning to attend the National 4-H Congress this month is to learn about leadership.

One lesson they’re learning along the way is how to raise funds for their trip.

Nikiski High School seniors Kara Bethune and Jessica Bowlin and Kenai Central High School freshman Maya Johnson are the three delegates representing Alaska during the national gathering of 4-H young people in Atlanta on Nov. 24-28.

By their own estimates, the venture will cost each girl $1,400 for travel expenses.

“Alaska has only a small pool of kids interested in going (to the national Congress), so there isn’t much of a selection process,” said Bethune, who also attended the national gathering last year.

When she got back home last year, she felt she wanted to bring more kids from Alaska, she said.

To help raise funds for their travel, Bethune and Johnson approached the Kenai City Council earlier this month, and council members voted to award $250 to each of the three girls.

In requesting the aid, the girls offered to perform work for the city in exchange for any financial assistance.

Kenai City Manager Rick Koch jokingly said, “If either of you could fix (the Public Employee Retirement System), we could fund the entire trip.”

The city administration will look for work the young people can do after they return from Atlanta.

In addition to help from the city of Kenai, Bethune said she has received sponsorships from the 4-H district council and a 4-H scholarship, and the trio is asking for assistance from the Soldotna Rotary Club.

Besides learning about leadership, Bethune, who has been in 4-H for 11 years, said one of the group’s goals is “get more fellowship within our district — the entire peninsula.”

On Saturday, the 4-H Leadership Club participated in a potluck snack event at Grace Brethren Church on Kalifornsky Beach Road to promote fellowship.

Among the larger 4-H clubs on the Kenai Peninsula are the Trailblazers in Ninilchik, the Funky Farmers in Nikiski, Stitch-to-Stitch in Soldotna and Horses and Livestock Unlimited in the Kenai and Soldotna areas.

Clubs also operate in Sterling and Homer.

Bethune, a longtime 4-H club president, said the program allows young people “to gain responsibility for their animals, learn to prepare for events and head up activities, and it gives them self-respect.”

“It teaches you, you can accomplish whatever you have a mind to,” Bethune said.

She and Johnson said if they don’t manage to raise enough funds for their travel through sponsorships and donations, they can use money they have earned from their market livestock raised and sold this year.

Bowlin, 17, who has been in 4-H for seven years, said she hopes to pick up more leadership skills that she can bring back to younger members of the Funky Farmers of Nikiski.

“A lot of it is just being friends with everyone; treat everyone with equality; listen to every idea, because no idea is a bad idea; realize that your way isn’t the only way; and learn to delegate,” Bowlin said.

Johnson, who is in her sixth year with 4-H, said she is hoping to learn how other states run their clubs.

She also said the delegates will have an opportunity to participate in community service while in Atlanta and each delegate is asked to bring one dime for each of 4-H’s 104 years of existence.

The dimes will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to learning about leadership and how others operate their 4-H clubs, Johnson and Bowlin said they are looking forward to visiting Atlanta’s new Georgia Aquarium, billed as the “world’s largest aquarium.”

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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