4-H Auction funds youth programs

   LAWRENCE - On the first Saturday of every March, people from around Van Buren County head to the Van Buren Conference Center here with plaid shirts, light hearts, and enough money to fill their empty trucks. They come from all walks of life; young kids scuttle across the bidding floor, as bearded men browse miscellaneous items spread along the walls. Before them stands the quick-speaking captain, who beacons each paddle to wave just one more time, as laughs arise from every corner of the room.
   What draws these people every year to the same, casual place? It’s not just the food, friendship, or merchandise that makes the 4-H Leaders’ Association Auction so great. It’s the purpose. This year’s auction is set for Saturday, March 2. Doors open at 9 a.m. The auction gets underway at 10.
   Money collected from the auction fuels the organization throughout the year, allowing it to achieve “larger service,” as the 4-H pledge requires. Much of this service involves education. Auction money allows the Leaders’ Association to sponsor workshops, camps, and other educational events throughout the year. “I’ve learned a lot from the local 4-H classes,” said Sophie Paquin, a 17-year-old 4-H member. “They did one on Avian Influenza a few years ago. It really opened my eyes and made me look at how I’m raising my own birds.”
   Auction proceeds also contribute to scholarships, allowing the Leaders’ Association to send older 4-H members to special events throughout the country. One of these events, Citizen Washington Focus,  allows  teens  the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., for a week. During that time, the teens have a chance to meet with their State representatives, tour the Capitol building, and build life skills that they will carry with them forever.
   The trip, without financial assistance, is cost prohibitive  for most families. With the help of auction-goers, though, they usually receive enough aid to attend this life-changing event.
   Another large scholarship event is 4-H Exploration Days, a three-day college experience held every summer at Michigan State University, East Lansing. Finally, money from the Leaders’ Association Auction goes to rewarding commitment in the local 4-H community. “After all their hard work, 4-H kids deserve ribbons, trophies, medals, or monetary prizes to recognize their success,” said Janice Zerbe, MSU Extension Educator.
   “In all, the annual 4-H Leaders’ Association Auction is very important to people in Van Buren County. It’s the primary source that allows the Leaders’ Association to achieve larger service, empowering younger generations,” said Zerbe. “For this reason, the purpose outweighs even the fun associated with this event. A big thank you goes out to all of the supporters.”
   Those  interested in making a donation to the auction may contact Zerbe at (269) 657-8213.

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The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes

The Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes
32280 E. Red Arrow Hwy. • P.O. Box 129
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(269) 657-5080

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