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Featured Clubs

Rock Island Shooting Sports

When you ask Clara Miller what's the most enjoyable parts of being a SPIN Club leader, she has a ready response. "Have you ever seen the look on a child's face the first time they put an arrow in a bulls-eye or break a clay pigeon? They smile from ear to ear and the enthusiasm to keep going and try again is so bountiful. I love it!"

Clara combines her strong passion for shooting with a desire to work with kids. Clara and her co-leader, Bill Peterson, started shooting sports classes for young people through their gun club in Colona, but wanted to widen their reach. That brought them to 4-H.

When they started the Shooting Sports SPIN Club they didn't expect so many young people to be excited about archery and shotgun. They have 16 members who shoot shotguns and 24 members who are archers.

Clara and Bill don't just introduce the young people to shooting and archery. They also help club members pursue their goals. Clara explains "There are so many kids out there that would like to try shooting to see if they would be interested in pursuing it. Some love it and others don't."

The Shooting Sports SPIN Club ranges in members from ages 8-16 for archery and ages 10-16 for shotgun. "All of them are anxious to get started shooting and then want to learn more," Clara explains. But, above everything else, they stress safety first to all their members. Both leaders have witnessed the young people grow and develop through the archery and shotgun lessons and shooting experiences.

To be certified as a Shooting Sports SPIN volunteer, adults must attend a state-sponsored Shooting Sports leader training workshop and complete the Illinois 4-H volunteer screening process. For more information, contact your local Extension office.

Clara can be contacted at mvnon2013(at)gmail.com

Spinning Bobbins 4-H Sewing SPIN Club

While teaching the techniques for cutting out patterns and sewing straight seams, Ann Brodsky also teaches members of the Spinning Bobbins 4-H Sewing SPIN Club the importance of giving to others. The club members use the skills they have learned from their sewing projects to create gifts to share with those in need. To bring comfort to the children of deployed military parents, the club members sew vests for teddy bears that are given to the children before their parents are deployed. A hidden pocket on the inside of the vest allows the parent to insert a note of encouragement and love.

Ann has watched her members grow and develop since joining the Spinning Bobbins 4-H Sewing SPIN Club. Through sewing and donating their creations to others, Ann has seen her members mature more then she thought possible. Ann says, "It's great seeing the kids grow and become the people they are meant to be." Members who were shy and timid in the beginning have matured into reliable and enthusiastic young people. The club members want to learn and now contribute new ideas and their own creativity to the projects they are making.

Ann's long history with 4-H makes her an inspiring leader to her Champaign County SPIN Club. Ann has volunteered with 4-H for over 13 years and was a 10-year club member in Christian County. She freely shares her time and expertise with the sewing club and with others in her community.

Ann can be contacted at sewbaby(at)sewbaby.com

Giddy Up & Whoa 4-H Equine SPIN Club

Debbie Kennedy's undeniably energetic personality, along with a strong passion for horses is what makes her the successful volunteer for the Giddy Up & Whoa 4-H Equine SPIN Club in Champaign County. Debbie's desire for teaching and working with young people motivated her to volunteer her time and expertise for the equine club.

Debbie loves the opportunities that 4-H gives to young people of all backgrounds to come together and meet on a level playing field. Most of the 14 members of the Giddy Up & Whoa 4-H Club knew nothing about horses before joining the club. Now, only a year later, they are ready to start learning to ride.

The SPIN club members have learned many things about horses since joining the club. They use what they learn at each meeting and apply it to real life. The members have learned how to check hay quality before feeding, lead the horses, put on a halter, groom the horses, measure height, and even calculate a horse's weight. A farrier taught members how to care for hooves. They learned about immunizations and dental work from a veterinarian. An assistant fire chief talked about the danger of barn fires and best practices for fire safety in the barn.

Debbie's favorite part of leading Giddy Up & Whoa 4-H Equine SPIN Club is spending time with the children and seeing the changes in them and how they interact with the horses. Debbie's barn is home to six rescue horses, all of which have experienced neglect or abuse. Debbie's rescue horses respond positively to the club members. Actually, the interaction is beneficial to both youth and horses. Work with the horses that would take Debbie over a year to accomplish is completed by the members during a couple of meetings. Debbie explains that young people and horses share a common bond that creates an understanding between them. Debbie says, "Everyone has a story and each child brings their story to the barn. The horses are accepting and don't judge."

Debbie has witnessed remarkable life changes in her club members. They have gained confidence not only around the horses, but within themselves, as well. She said, "You pair an 8-year-old up with a 1,000-pound animal and discover what the kids are really capable of."

Debbie can be contacted at drrlkennedy(at)aol.com