The University of Missouri Extension office in Holt County has worked with Nodaway-Holt Elementary in Maitland to start an after-school 4-H Enrichment Club.

Organized by Holt County 4-H Youth Program Associate Kelly Todd, one of the enrichment club’s meetings was on April 23 to explore small animal care. Assisting Todd was Nodaway County 4-H Youth Program Associate Dana Auffert. Auffert had brought three rabbits of differing breeds and a guinea pig for the children to admire and pet.

Discussion was held on the amount of time children needed to devote just to the cleaning and care of the pet, on top of playtime. Diet restrictions for rabbits and guinea pigs were talked about and the children were informed lettuce was not healthy for either species. The amount of space, type of enclosures and bedding needed were also covered.

Enrichment Clubs provide students with another opportunity to be exposed to 4-H, Todd said. 4-H is open to students from age five to 18. The NH club has had students from kindergarten to sixth grade with 20 attending to explore small animal care.

This is Todd’s second after-school club. South Holt has had a Clover Kids after school for three years. The benefits include a safe environment, positive youth development and hands-on activities in various subject areas.

“I am so excited that we were able to partner with the ladies at the extension,” Elementary Principal Shawn Emerson said. “We have had over 20 students stay each time and they have really enjoyed the activities. I hope that we can expand this next year so that more students can participate and then 4-H can start up a club in the area and provide more opportunities for our students.”

Benefits for 4-H youth participation by students are:

• Less likely to become involved in high-risk behaviors.

• Have higher school attendance and grades.

• Can manage conflict.

• Possess strong work habits.