It may seem strange that a rural city of Yelm’s size would not have a 4-H club. But, up until recently, that was the case. There are 4-H clubs in nearby cities, but there were none in the City of Yelm itself. Justin Wikoff decided to change all that.

Justin’s wife is actually an FFA leader in Yelm, but FFA is for kids over 12 years old. They have two kids, a son, Alex who is 7, and a daughter, Penny Ann, who is 5. In 4-H clubs, kids can start as young as 5 years old, depending on the project. Kids need to be at least 8 years old for hands-on projects involving large animals or shooting sports.

Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H club members sitting at a large folding table
Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H club members run the meetings using parliamentary procedure. Photo courtesy: Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H

“We wanted our own children to be involved in 4-H to help gain skills such as public speaking, leadership and team work but could not find a club close to home,” says Justin. Not wanting to drive all the way to Olympia or Tumwater for 4-H, led the Wikoffs to one conclusion: it was time Yelm had a 4-H club!

Justin decided to take the reins himself and be the Leader for Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H “It’s important because it really strengthens young members leadership skills and involvement in the community, starting to take on office appointments, public speaking, prepping for events, participating in the fair, getting in front of other people and taking on those projects,” shares Justin.

Yelm’s 4-H Club is for All

Interested in sewing? Robotics? Small mammals? Poultry? You can join the Nerd Herd! Yelm’s 4-H club is not focused on just one or two projects, but whatever it’s members might be interested in.

4-H kids doing a craft at a bi-monthly meeting. Photo courtesy: Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H

“We’re just casting a wide net because there’s such a need in Yelm,” shares Elise Villacian, club member and reporter for the 4-H Nerd Herd, when asked if it was unusual for a club to be so varied.

The responsive has been positive. The Nerd Herd already consists of 13 4-Hers, with poultry, pocket pets, baking and rabbit projects. “I was excited that there is a closer club to me,” shares Anja Carpenter, Nerd Herd 4-H member. “I’m doing poultry. I really like doing showing and breeding.”

a rooster on a table with kids and parents around it
Chickens brought by a parent to a Yellm 4-H club meeting teach kids about handling and taking care of them for the fair. Photo courte Photo courtesy: Yelm Nerd Herd 4-H

“I was very excited because I’ve never been in 4-H before and this a good opportunity for me and my sisters,” adds Kyla Poland, another member. “I’m doing goats. I’m looking forward to helping others and expanding my leadership skills.”

Meetings are as varied at the projects. Some times chickens and rabbits are brought in. The club may do a craft, like making ornaments. Lots of learning about their projects – and each other’s projects – happens. The 4-Hers learn business and life lesson skills, like voting on things and taking attendance.

“I really like the club because the kids run the meeting and there’s a fun craft or an animal that someone brings to show,” shares Elise.

If you are interested in joining the Nerd Herd 4-H Club in Yelm, visit their Facebook page for more information. Meetings happen the first and third Sunday of the month at 2 p.m.

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