4-H Volunteers Retire From Education, Club Leadership
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After the dismissal bell, a crowd of students exit their classrooms. Some load the buses, and some wait in the pick-up line for their ride. Once a month, others rush into Janie Rickman’s classroom, the location of the Bear Paws 4-H Club.
At the end of this school year, a number of educators will be handing off the baton to the next generation of teachers and moving into a new season – retirement. For two local professionals, this will also be the closing of another chapter as Janie Rickman and Laura Arizmendi of Baton Elementary step down from being 4-H Club Leaders as well.
Rickman shares what motivated her to give her time and energy to 4-H.
“I saw a need in the schools with our kids, and I knew what 4-H could do with skill building and team building,” she said.
Club Leaders, like Rickman, support youth while conducting meaningful, educational experiences to help youth grow and reach their fullest potential. They also provide a safe environment for youth, and communicate with youth, parents or guardians, other volunteers and county 4-H staff to maintain smooth operation of the club.
The Bear Paws 4-H Club organized in 2016 with Rickman’s help. Directed by members interests’, community service and Appalachian heritage have been points of emphasis during their club activities.
“She’s very passionate about preserving the cultural heritage of the community,” said Jason Teffeteller, principal at Baton Elementary, about Rickman.
In addition, Rickman decided stewardship or learning how to take care of the community and the environment would be taught through the club too.
“You have to find people that share the same vision as you.” Rickman said, and Laura Arizmendi was ready to help make it come to life for 4th and 5th grade students at the school alongside her and other volunteers.
Arizmendi is the other retiring professional at the school and a 4-H Club Leader with the Bear Paws. She was drawn to help with the club because 4-H positively impacted her daughter as she grew up, and she saw how it connected youth to the school and community.
“Laura is so invested in the school and this community,” Teffeteller said. “I think that goes hand in hand with her involvement in 4-H.”
Teffeteller added they would both be missed at the school upon their impending retirement.
Next year, other volunteers will carry the torch for 4-H at Baton Elementary, providing hands-on learning and civic engagement opportunities for students.
To learn more about how youth can participate in 4-H or what else is being offered locally, contact Caldwell County 4-H Agent Sarah Kocher at firstname.lastname@example.org or part-time 4-H Program Assistant Debbier Burns at email@example.com.
Families can also view local 4-H information online at caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu.
Caldwell County 4-H is a proud member agency of United Way.
Sarah Kocher is the 4-H Youth Development Agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center. She will be leaving Extension June 2, 2023 to start a job closer to her family in Kansas. She says she is grateful for the community’s support of 4-H and herself these past four years.
The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.