Wright County 4-H numbers continue to rise

By John Holler

Contributing writer

At a time when membership is 4-H is declining both in Minnesota and nationally, the numbers of Wright County 4-H members continues to rise. At the Oct. 1 meeting of the Wright County Board, 4-H Program Coordinator Nick Neaton came before the commissioners with a couple of 4-Hers and a proclamation to have Wright County acknowledged Oct. 6-12 as National 4-H Week in Wright County.

A pair of high school students – Julianne Quandt of Annandale and Amanda Maus of Waverly – spoke to the board about their 4-H experience. Both highlighted how 4-H has helped developed the young women they’ve become and how they have learned valuable leadership skills that will carry for a lifetime.

4-H is a program funded through the University of Minnesota Extension Service and Program Coordinator Nick Neaton said that the program isn’t all about dairy cows and the agrarian lifestyle.

“4-H has worked to expand from those programs that are based in agriculture to those the deal with other important programs that deal more with things like public speaking, citizenship and public service,” Neaton said. “The numbers in some areas have dropped because their populations have remained the same. Wright County remains a growing county and with that, we’ve seen our numbers continue to rise.”

Five years ago, there were approximately 500 Wright County students enrolled in 4-H. Today, there are more than 600 with more than 150 adult volunteers.. In Minnesota, there are approximately 71.000 4-Hers and the board recognized the contributions made. The commissioners voted unanimously to honor 4-H members and adult volunteers with the week of recognition.

“We’re excited about the future,” Neaton said. “As a society, we may be moving away from an agricultural background, but we honor those who do and offer programs that are of interest to kids who don’t live on farms. We have more members in our program from the cities in Wright County than in the townships. 4-H is changing with the times.”

For more information on Wright County 4-H, go to its website (www.extension.umn.edu/county/wright) for more information.

In other items on the Oct. 1 agenda, the board:

DIRECTED Human Resources Director Tamara Bigelow to draft policy language for specific revisions to the county’s flex-time regulations. The personnel committee of the whole had a long discussion concerning the reasons behind employees looking for flexibility in 40-hour work schedules and intend to have language that reflects the intent of allowing flexible work hours during employee schedules while maintaining the policies of standard eight-hour work days.

AUTHORIZED board attendance at the Association of Minnesota Counties Annual Conference Dec. 9-11 in Minneapolis.

APPROVED a letter of support for the expansion of the I-94 corridor through Wright County to be part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Corridors of Commerce program. The segment of I-94 from Rogers to St. Cloud has been identified as the most congested span of interstate highway in Minnesota. While it represents just 1.6 percent of MnDOT’s ICS (Interregional Corridor System), it also represents 40 percent of the congestion on the statewide system. The hope is to extend three lanes of traffic beyond the Rogers exit, where traffic heading west bottlenecks from three lanes to two and, during peak traffic hours, is routinely stop-and-go.

APPROVED offering the position of Wright County Ag Inspector to Eric Heuring of Monticello Township. Earlier this year, the county was a bit embarrassed to find out that the former agricultural inspector had died months before anyone in the county had been made aware. The county intends to offer Heuring the same contract under which Ken Johnson, the previous ag inspector, was paid.

APPROVED paying for a one-year subscription to Capital Report, the St. Paul Legal Ledger that updates subscribers to the latest happenings at the State Capitol. Commissioner Mike Potter said the paper is a valuable tool to access information on decisions made at the state level and provides commissioners with the up-to-date progress of bills and issues that may be of interest to Wright County.