When they think of 4-H, many people's minds conjure images of pigs and horses, cattle and goats.
The program is popular for its agriculture-related activities, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a place in the city.
A new branch being formed in Charleston will prove just that and also, officials hope, that 4-H, the country's oldest and largest youth group, has a place in the 21st century.
"Children select projects that they do on their own, and there's a whole big list of things they can do," said John Porter, the WVU Kanawha County Agriculture Agent and one of the new club's leaders. "And that does include livestock, but it also includes a lot of other things."
There are activities as varied as gardening, hiking, fishing, drama and puppetry. And in recent years there's been a huge push for the STEM subjects -- that's science, technology, engineering and math.
The national 4-H organization pledged several years ago to cultivate 1 million new scientists by exposing kids to science, Porter said, and they're well on their way with a slew of children doing science projects each through their local 4-H branch.
This new branch, at Charleston's Christ Church United Methodist Church, will join another relatively new Charleston branch in the South Hills area -- it started last year -- and several in the region: there are also branches in Elkview and Dunbar.
It was borne from a shared interest in 4-H between the new group's two adult leaders, Porter and Ryan Frankenberry. Both are members of the church and 4-H alumni, and think 4-H is valuable to a community and its chidren.
"It's a great place to have fun, it's a great place to meet friends," Porter said. "And it's a way for kids to explore different things that they might not explore on their own in school or at home."
4-H is free to join and open to everyone between the ages of 9 and 21. Children between age 5 and 8 can join as "cloverbuds."
The new club will hold an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Christ Church United Methodist Church at 1221 Quarrier St.
For more information, call 304-720-9887 or email john.por...@mail.wvu.edu.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.