Though she’s years away from college, Liberty County High School freshman and aspiring veterinarian Courtney Kuelling already has a foundation in caring for animals, thanks to 4-H programming.
The teen is raising three hens and two roosters in her backyard, but the national explorative program sent her to a two-week study this summer at Fort Valley State University.
“I loved it; we were like veterinarians, we did all sorts of things,” she said. “We went to vet a clinic, we checked on different animals, we took blood and samples and took them to the lab.”
Students can learn about similar opportunities and 4-H programs during National 4-H Week, which runs today through Saturday, according to Liberty County 4-H agent Kasey Bozeman.
“It’s here to bring awareness about 4-H, celebrate our successes over the year and hopefully get more kids interested and involved in what we’re doing,” Bozeman said.
The group will offer free programs from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday for students ages 9-19 and hold open houses for parents to seek information throughout the day. More than 700 students at nine schools already participate in in-school 4-H meetings.
Events for the week include collecting litter from downtown Hinesville; making cards for the Hearts for Heroes program; creating robots from toothbrushes and watch batteries; and fitness and nutrition workshops.
After-school programs include a robotics club, archery club, horse club and preparation for competitions such as land judging, poultry judging and the Georgia National Fair.
Poultry judging, in which participants analyze parts of living and dead chickens for their consumer value, is what inspired Kuelling to raise her chickens.
“My friends had chickens for years, and I finally wanted some— and poultry judging at 4H,” Kuelling said. “I was going to bring some if they let me … you go and you tell what part’s what, and you identify what’s a bad egg.”
Though she is not sure whether she will be able to show her chickens, Kuelling said the experience will be fodder for an application to participate again in another ag-discovery program.
But Bozeman added that there’s more to the club than showing animals at fairs. Another program, cotton boll and consumer judging, places participants in hypothetical scenarios where they judge consumer items based on value.
“It’s to teach them leadership skills, to get them involved in their community, to teach them time management skills, to teach them all these different life skills that are important to apply,” Bozeman said.
Kuelling’s mother, Patricia Kuelling, said the program offers a “good wholesome environment for your children and good values.”
For more information about 4-H Week activities in Liberty County, call 876-2133 or visit the extension office in the Historic Liberty County Courthouse.