4-H Youth Programs

With the help of youth volunteers we reached:

  • 26 youth in four 4-H clubs
  • 40 youth in two after school programs
  • 800 youth in gardening, farming & nutrition in-school programs


Greenville Super Science 4-H Club – General Science, Environmental Studies, Health, Open to 12 and up

Guilford Adventures in Health Science – Health career exploration, Open to 12 and up

Parkman Area Adventure 4-H Club – Archery, Hiking, Public Service, General activities, Open to all ages

Piscataquis 4-H Animal  Club – Pets, Livestock, Open to all ages

School Programs

Engaging Youth, Serving Communities – Youth lead community development in Milo

Milo Afterschool Program – Special interest clubs, topics vary each session, Open to grades 3-5

Milo Middle School – will be starting an Afterschool Program in early 2015

Monson Afterschool Program – Special interest clubs, topics vary each session, Open to grades 3-5


Farm to School – FoodCorps

Sonja dressed in a produce costume and acted as the veggie or fruit cheerleader to encourage kids to at least try the veggie or fruit of the month.
Sonja dressed in a produce costume and acted as the veggie or fruit cheerleader to encourage kids to at least try the veggie or fruit of the month.

How do you get kids to try new or misunderstood fruits and vegetables at the school cafeteria? Make it fun! Make it exciting! Every month our Sonja Birthisel, FoodCorp Service Member worked with cafeteria staff to select a vegetable or fruit of the month. She dressed in a produce costume and acted as the veggie or fruit cheerleader to encourage kids to at least try the veggie or fruit of the month.

A survey showed that two-thirds of the students who tried beets either “liked” or “loved” them! “Preparing for and facilitating novel hands-on cooking and gardening activities brings me constant joy,” says Sonja. “I love the challenge of balancing learning goals with fun: shaping meaningful activities that allow kids the freedom to explore and laugh, while surreptitiously driving home key concepts.”

A new school garden at SeDoMoCha features raised beds and a fence to prevent deer from feeding on the vegetables. A generous contribution of $500 worth of materials plus volunteer labor made this possible.

In the past year, FoodCorps has reached over 420 kids in 11 classrooms in Dover-Foxcroft and Milo.


Adventures in Health Science with Piscataquis County Hospitals

A 4-H Adventures in Health Science member takes John Rebar's blood pressure during a demonstration.
A 4-H Adventures in Health Science member takes John Rebar’s blood pressure during a demonstration.

Once again, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H program, in collaboration with Mayo Regional Hospital and C.A. Dean Memorial Hospital, offered 4-H Adventures in Health Science to students ages 12 to 18. The program offers youth the opportunity to learn about careers in the field of health care through direct interaction with medical professionals who practice in Piscataquis County.

Each program began with a three-day summer immersion experience at Mayo Regional Hospital’s Resource Center in Dover-Foxcroft, or at C.A. Dean Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

This summer’s area of exploration was muscles and bones.  Fourteen enrolled in the program to meet with experts in the areas of anatomy, physical or occupational therapy, eating for strong muscles and bones, emergency care of injuries and injury prevention.  The hands-on activities were fun as well as educational.

As a result of last year’s Adventures in Health Science two new 4-H Clubs were established called the Greenville Super Science 4-H Club and Adventures in Health Science-Guilford. Last year the Guilford group attended a number of county events and offered free blood pressure screening. The Greenville group competed in the Envirothon and came in 5th out of 16 teams in the Maine Regional competition.


4-H Afterschool and 4-H School Programs

Last year Piscataquis County had two afterschool programs at reached over 40 students in Monson and Milo, plus 4-H In-School programs that reached an additional 400 youth. Afterschool activities included gardening, physics, health, nutrition and high school youth community action programs. Youth in the afterschool programs participated in field trips to the Bangor Discovery Museum and University of Maine.

Milo 4-H Afterschool Kids Can Grow Program
Milo 4-H Afterschool Kids Can Grow Program

Two 4-H grant funded high school programs supported a student requested horticulture elective class this year provided by Katie Joyner Robertson, which incorporated garden, greenhouse, nutrition and cooking activities designed by students who shared lessons with elementary classes and the community during a wellness fair. Dani Newman provided support to the program as a former 4-H’er serving as a National 4-H Council Molina Healthcare intern.

This summer, some students from the Milo 4-H afterschool program are active in the new Milo Farmers Market and Community Garden effort led by former 4-H’er Haley Emery who helped start the first 4-H afterschool and youth community action program in Milo in 2007.



The iCook research project is a two-year, 5-state research project focused on improving culinary skills and increasing family meals and physical activity in children aged 9 and 10. In Piscataquis County, ten adult and children pairs participated in the program, and all the participants were very enthusiastic about each class. In addition to the ten adult child pairs who participated in the classes, five pairs were enrolled in the study in the control group. The adult and child pairs received $10 for each session they attended. Families in Piscataquis County received $900 from this project last year. As a result of the iCook classes, one child reported that “my family eats together a lot more now and we learn about each others days.” Many of the participants came to class and reported that they tried the recipe from the previous class at home.



The GrowME program was hatched in 2011 when three local organizations with an interest in agriculture decided there was an opportunity to assist schools and teachers by providing some “hands on” activities with an agricultural theme. Valley Grange, Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation and District and the Piscataquis County UMaine Extension agreed on a mission to “build a truly local program of agriculturally themed activities for kids led by local volunteers with the goal of increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun!”

This past spring GrowME activities were brought to 53 kindergarten through 3rd grade classes in Piscataquis County and surrounding areas reaching over 800 kids with either Making Dirt Babies, Dairy & Butter Making, Animal Graph or Apples to Apples. Volunteers included farmers and Master Gardeners who went into the classroom during Agriculture Week to guide the age appropriate garden and farming activities. The local and regional news media came to the classrooms to cover the exciting activities.


Greenville 4-Hers “want it all!”

Greenville Super Science 4-H Club
Greenville Super Science 4-H Club

One of the reasons Gretchen Huettner decided to become a 4-H Leader is that she has fond memories of the many opportunities 4-H provided her when she was young. She readily admits that as a leader, she now appreciates how much work is involved. “But,” she quickly adds, “the kids really do most of it.”

They started as the Greenville Health Science 4-H Club because the club’s roots were in the 4-H program conducted at the C. A. Dean Hospital where kids had the opportunity to learn about careers in the health care field from medical professionals. But club members were really interested in more than just health science, opting to participate in the Maine Envirothon, an environmentally themed high school competition. Member Rebecca Huettner describes the club’s realization, “We want it all!” The name of the club was changed to Super Science 4-H Club.

Club leader Gretchen Huettner describes some of the differences between when she was a member. “Kids today have a lot more options both outside and inside 4-H. That means when they make a choice, they end up doing the planning and the work out of a sense of ownership and responsibility. Because they see themselves as a team, they share the work – even if it means doing a job that may not be your favorite.”

Years ago, the focus of 4-H was cows and cooking with the time tested 4-H slogan “Learning by Doing,” but 4-H also includes a wide range or activities such as robotics, aquaculture, and digital photography. In addition, clubs are self-governed providing social and leadership development.

In the short time the Greenville Super Science 4-H Club has been chartered, every member is CPR-certified, participated in the state Envirothon competition, they held a bake sale fundraiser for the local Shaw Library to purchase more science topic books to help prepare for their next Envirothon competition. They also helped with Greenville’s Annual Chocolate Festival and provided refreshments at the Dover Foxcroft Blacksmith’s Shop during Homecoming weekend.

The club’s leaders believe that the most important quality of a 4-H leader is being a person who “wants to see kids succeed by doing things they want to do.” Leaders Mysty Dauphinee, Gretchen and Doug Huettner also appreciate that their kids are club members, so 4-H time is also family time.

Member Gabrielle Huettner admits the current membership is “completely involved in science” and anyone who is thinking about joining should be prepared for that. The club consensus is that success isn’t being the biggest club in Piscataquis County, but it might be being the busiest and most active.

For information about joining a 4-H club in the area or volunteering as a leader, contact Sheila Norman at the Piscataquis County Extension Office in Dover-Foxcroft at 564-3301.