National 4-H Week is Oct. 6 – 12
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
When one thinks of 4-H, a picture of animals comes to mind. Or possibly gardens or even the arts. What doesn’t usually get pictured is a club with members spending their time at a shooting range.
Taunya Poser of rural Pierz is the club leader for the Morrison County Shooting Sports and Wildlife Club. As a certified instructor, she is teaching roughly 10 youths the fine art of shooting.
“The children who are in third grade or older are able to use an air rifle or pistol, BB guns or a bow,” she said. “To shoot a .22 rifle or a shot gun, they must be in seventh grade or older.”
Each one of the firearms or archery is considered a discipline.
“This is a project-specific club,” said Poser, who took over as leader of the 25-year-old club three years ago. “Many clubs offer their members a variety of activities with animals, arts, ag and more. We just offer shooting sports and wildlife.”
Poser began with the club as its archery coach, assisting the leader. When that person moved on, she took over.
The Club meets weekly at Eastern Morrison County Shooting Sports. They set up targets, usually for one of the disciplines, then discuss safety practices and the State Shoot’s rules and processes.
“Then, three of the youths get in their stance and on command, shoot at the target at one time,” said Poser. “For example, with the .22 rifle, they shoot at three targets stacked one on top of the other. For the lowest target, the shooter is prone on the ground. For the middle target, the shooter is on his or her knees. For the highest target, the shooter is standing.”
The meetings last about 1.5 hours between the safety class and the shooting.
“It’s a lot of fun, yet it’s still competition,” said Poser. “We are getting ready for the State Shoot, held this year and next in Alexandria.”
The Morrison County Shooting Sports and Wildlife Club attended the State Shoot for the first time this year under the guidance of Poser.
The event sees about 800 youths who come to compete with the disciplines Posers offers, along with muzzle loaders. It also offers several fun shoots which include a silhouette fun shoot and a skill-a-thon. There are more than 16 events.
The State Shoot is always held the weekend after Labor Day around the state. This year’s event was held in Alexandria.
Any 4-H member in grades three – 13 who has completed 15 hours of on-line shooting under the guidance of a certified instructor is qualified to compete at the State Shoot. They must also have eight hours of wildlife education.
Periodically, the Morrison County Shooting Sports and Wildlife 4-H Club steps away from the target range and studies wildlife. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Paul Kuske has spoken with the group about different types of furs and hides. The members are able to differentiate between rabbit, bear, squirrel, raccoon and many other furs and hides.
The 4-H members were also able to take the same test given to DNR recruits in the identification of different animals found in Minnesota. Some of them did very well.
“We have built birdhouses and learned all about the different types of beaks that birds have and how they are used to pick things up,” said Poser.
Poser’s son Cole, 13, is a member of the Morrison County Shooting Sports and Wildlife Club.
“I love to shoot air pistols, shot guns and a bow,” he said. “I am learning to shoot for hunting.”
Brooke, 10, is Poser’s daughter and she also is a member of the 4-H Club. She said she likes archery the best, although she has a hard time pulling the bow string back.
“I think she likes the bow because it’s lighter than the firearms,” said Poser of her daughter.
Minnesota 4-H offers youths of all ages hands-on learning through various projects. The program offers membership into clubs, after-school programs, volunteering, community service, camping and more. It is available not only in rural settings, but also in urban areas.
In 4-H, members design and participate in their own programs and activities. They learn by doing. This model teaches youths essential skills they will use their entire lives. Those skills include, but are not limited to problem solving, decision making, coping, communicating and responding to the needs of others.
Programs and projects can be created in animal sciences, agriculture, health, citizenship, arts, science, engineering and/or technology. It’s only limited to the members’ imaginations.
In 1901, Ohio Principal A.B. Graham began promoting vocational agriculture in rural schools in after-school clubs. In 1902, he formed a club of both boys and girls with assistance from the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station and Ohio State University. Those clubs are considered the beginning of 4-H.
The club concept was adopted in Iowa.
In 1904, corn clubs and corn-growing contests were established in Indiana. The teaching tools of today’s 4-H Clubs were begun that same year with projects, meetings and exhibits created by the youths.
By 1914, there were 4-H Clubs in nearly all the 48 states.
Today, as when it started, the focus of 4-H is hands-on and practical learning.
The 4-H organization is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to engage youths to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. Today, the organization has about 90,000 clubs with about 6.5 million members.
For more information about the Morrison County Shooting Sports and Wildlife 4-H Club, contact Poser at (320) 468-2965.
“I would love to have more youths in the club and more parents involved. With more, the Club may be able to practice all the disciplines each week,” said Poser.