It all began when Joi Prud’homme and Enrene Van Tonder started the Woodbridge Gardens for Wildlife Facebook Group and were granted permission from the Board of Selectmen to establish an educational garden in the Community Gardens. While searching for curriculum they were looking for local 4-H programs and found that most were 30 minutes or more away. They quickly decided it made sense to become 4-H Volunteers to bring 4-H programming back to Woodbridge. Over the years, Woodbridge has had 4-H Programs for poultry, gardening and various other focus areas but those programs faded away due to lack of available volunteers.
For more than 100 years, 4‑H has been the nation’s leading youth organization giving youth voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. The 4-H Youth Development Program welcomes young people of all beliefs, abilities and backgrounds, empowering them with skills to lead for a lifetime and uses a learn-by-doing approach to help them develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to become competent, caring and contributing citizens of the world. This is accomplished by using the knowledge and resources of caring adults. Youth can join 4-H and take part in 4-H clubs, special interest programs, educational programs, camps, animal and other shows and public speaking programs. All 4-H clubs are led by screened, trained 4-H adult volunteers.
The first meeting for the Woodbridge 4-H Club of the 2021-2022 Year was held on October 23rd in the garden plot that was generously allocated by the Woodbridge Community Gardens and the Board of Selectmen. This plot was unused for a significant period of time and lots of debris had to be removed before it was safe for the kids to work in the space. While there is still much work to be done, the first “seeds” have been planted for the upcoming spring gardening season! The plot has an outdoor classroom space to safely hold meetings and the 4-Hers will be creating a Sustainability and Wildlife Garden. Currently the Club is for Grades 4-6 and limited to 10 children. We would love to expand to other age groups, but will need additional leaders. This is due to the fact that the curriculum is age based, and Youth to Leader Ratio limitations. We would gladly walk any adults interested through the process and give information on what the commitment entails. We are also happy to discuss how the club can accommodate other projects youth would like to explore, like dog training, animal care, science, creative arts, robotics, etc.
This year our core club project will be Sustainability and Wildlife Conscious Gardening. Some of the things we will do include:
- Go on trail hikes;
- Meet with Master Gardeners;
- Learn about composting and vermicomposting;
- Do Nature Crafts;
- Sow native seeds;
- Design a wildlife garden;
- Work on getting Woodbridge on the Pollinator Pathway;
- Grow vegetables and flowers with the option of taking products to 4-H Fair in 2022.
Registration is first come-first served. A wait list will be established. After 2 absences the slot will be filled from the wait list. We can add additional ages based on availability of more volunteer leaders. UConn Extension 4-H is an equal opportunity employer and program provider.