Credit: courtesy photo

“I think that there’s a general misconception of what 4-H is,” said Ashley Durlach-Kondos. “Horses, agriculture—these are the foundation of 4-H but it’s much bigger than that. It’s really about engaging youth and having a positive impact on them and on our community”

Durlach-Kondos is the 4-H coordinator for Grand County through the Utah State University Extension. She’s working to reach out to locals who are passionate and interested in working with kids to build up the program, which currently has three clubs running.

“We’ve had clubs like baking, we’ve had self-confidence groups for young girls, STEM, civic engagement,” she said. “It’s open. If someone’s good at sewing, let’s get them in here and let’s get them started teaching.”

Across the country, 4-H programs reach millions of young people through cooperation with public universities providing mentorship. The organization, which is over 100 years old, came about to connect public school education with practical, hands-on learning about local industry and agriculture.

“We focus our programming on the kind of expertise that is in our community, that is based here,” said Durlach-Kondos.

Currently the Grand County 4-H is running a Community Club and a Poultry Club both led by Misty Kovacs. Those clubs are currently full, but the Horsemanship Club led by Curtis Walker is open to new kids.

“That club is really cool,” said Durlach-Kondos. “Kids do not need to have their own horse—originally it was called the Horseless Horse Club.”

Kids do not need to have their own horse—originally it was called the Horseless Horse Club.

The Horsemanship Club is working on learning to rope, gear training and having professional speakers come in. Like other clubs, it’s really built around the passion that the mentor—Walker—brings to it.

“When he was younger, he wished for a club like this,” Durlach-Kondos said. “So now he’s just trying to be that person that he didn’t have when he was younger.”

Durlach-Kondos said that the organization is actively looking for more volunteers and feedback from the community. Currently, there is a survey gathering information about topics of interest for future clubs.

“I think the main thing is just making sure that there’s public awareness that we’re here and we’re ready,” she said. “Once we get some volunteers in here, we can start building clubs and potentially start partnerships with local businesses.”

4-H will be at the 2023 Grand County Fair, which is planned for June 30 to July 4. The group is planning to have a life-size cow replica for kids to practice milking as well as other agriculture-focused activities.

“4-H can be what the community wants it to be,” said Durlach-Kondos. “What matters is getting local kids engaged and active.”

To reach out to the Grand County 4-H club or learn more, call 435-797-1483 or email Members of the public are also welcome to visit the offices at the USU extension. Find out more about clubs through the USU Grand County Extension social media on Instagram or Facebook.