Dickson 4-H focuses on community during pandemic school year

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
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4-H has been a staple in classrooms for generations often associated with livestock and agriculture, and that has not changed at the beginning of a new decade. The club at Dickson schools is no different but, during a school year marred by a pandemic, members have put a major focus on undertaking community projects. 

“When we asked them at our very first meeting, community service was what they wanted to focus on,” said Laree Walker, a parent leader for the 4H club at Dickson with two children active in the organization.  

Dickson 4-H Club volunteers pose after repainting the DHS sign on campus Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

The club has evolved over the years to include food science, public speaking and even robotics. With many of the older Dickson students heavily involved with 4H leadership at a county level, Walker said a majority of the active club members are between third and eighth grades. 

Some of the Dickson club’s youngest members are having a huge impact on campus and within the community. Since the beginning of the school year, the club has participated in a litter pickup day on campus, cleaned and painted the DHS sign and made custom Christmas ornaments for area veterans. 

Dickson 4-H Club volunteers clean a faded DHS sign Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

“I don’t really have a favorite project. I loved them all considering we were doing them for other people,” said Cydnee Walker, a sixth grade student who chairs the club’s beautification committee. 

The group met in August and let leaders know that community service projects would be a focus of this year’s club. Laree Walker said even though participation dropped slightly from previous years, between 10 and 15 students have remained active this school year. 

Dickson 4-H Club volunteers paint the DHS sign Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. The club has put a focus on community projects this school year.

One of the first projects was a litter cleanup day after a Comets home football game early in the season. Laree Walker said club members invited friends and the Sunday cleanup was so well enjoyed by volunteers that they asked to hold more. 

After Cydnee Walker’s committee spearheaded the project to spruce up the DHS sign on the southwest corner of campus, some leftover paint from a previous school project was used to get the project started in October. Some volunteers cleaned the sign and applied fresh paint while others removed brush and pine cones from the gentle hill. 

Crafting supplies are laid out for Dickson 4-H Club members to use for Christmas ornaments.

By November, students were using those pine cones to decorate as Christmas ornaments for residents of the Oklahoma Veterans Center. Laree Walker said club members voted on where the decorations would be going. 

“We really do put the ownership and the decision making in their hands,” she said. 

Dickson 4-H Club members show off pine cone Christmas decorations. The group picked the pine cones during an October cleanup event and gave the decorated ornaments to residents at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Ardmore.

Calob Walker, and eighth grade student and member of club leadership, said the service projects are making this unusual school year feel a little more normal. Even the pine cone project was impacted by the pandemic, however, when students were unable to deliver the Christmas decorations in person. 

“It does kind of kick in every once in a while,” he said about the reality of pandemic precautions. 

Dickson 4-H Club volunteers pose with pine cone Christmas decorations Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, made for residents at the Oklahoma Veterans Center

With the back half of the school year remaining, the 4-H Club at Dickson schools expects projects to continue. Cydnee Walker hopes to bring some color to pots sitting outside some classrooms and Laree Walker hopes springtime means planting projects outside. 

Laree Walker also hopes that the lessons learned from the community projects continue well after the pandemic. 

”You hope that they do it 50 years from now.” 

To have your classroom's act of kindness featured in The Ardmoreite, send your photos to yournews@ardmoreite.com or contact Michael D. Smith at msmith@ardmoreite.com