In the spring of 2014, the Two River 4-H Club of Kittson County received a Helping Hands Grant from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation for a pool beautification project in their community. Here's their story as told to Erin Kelly-Collins.
After spending several years maintaining the landscaping near the entryway of our local community pool, our club felt it was time to reevaluate the design and utility of the space. We first received feedback and encouragement from city maintenance workers to take on this project and knew that we could seek funding from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation if our plan was well developed.
Our members spent several meetings imagining what a redesigned space could be, paying particular attention to safety, utility and overall attractiveness. We consulted with a local landscaper and greenhouse who taught us about benefits and detractors of the different materials and plants we were considering and built a budget based on their feedback and expertise.
Two of our members, along with their parents, made a formal presentation to the city council and asked them to providing partial funding for the project. The council was very receptive to the idea, and voted to fund the project expenses that were not covered by our Helping Hands Grant.
Once our club's funding was in place, we were able to finalize plans, purchase materials and schedule our work days. Although we expected the landscaping project to take two full days in the hot sun, it went much faster because of the many people who helped, including 17 members and 8 adult volunteers.
"Hard work is more fun when you are doing it with friends," said Alyssa (age 11), one of our club members who helped during our work day. "We all pitched in and had a long day. But, in the end it was worth it to see how great it turned out!"
In addition to the landscaping and general community service experience this project provided our youth and adult volunteers, it also was a wonderful opportunity to build leadership skills in our older members.
"I thought it was fun to help because it was a type of project that most 4-Hers don't do," said Danny (age 17). "Even though there were many young 4-H'ers, the older ones helped teach them to get the project done right."
We are so grateful for the support we received from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation and others. Our youth learned so much from this project and we really see the positive impact we had on our community.
"I loved it! I was so excited that we were all able contribute to such an awesome thing for our community," said Madison (age 16) who was the youth leader of this project. "No matter how young you are, you can make a difference in your community!"