County axes its 4-H support

Nearly 400 youngsters throughout the greater Enumclaw area are facing the demise of their 4-H programs, now than King County has eliminated funding for the organization that seeks “to make the best better.”

Those 400 kids belong to the 29 individual clubs that dot the Plateau north of the White River.

While 4-H has its roots in agriculture and animal husbandry, the organization has expanded its view to include things like cooking, public speaking and encouraging the arts and sciences.

Still, 4-H is most often associated with animals and Plateau kids can be found raising and caring for cattle, horses, goats, rabbits, chickens, hogs and more.

Now, 4-H leaders worry about the future of the program that originated around the turn of the 20th century and has gained a foothold everywhere, including King County. County leaders, looking to trim money from a tight budget, eliminated 4-H funding in their 2012 spending plan.

Pat BoyEs, working out of an office at the WSU Research Center in Puyallup, is the statewide program director for 4-H. She saw how King County had funded 4-H to the tune of $100,000 in 2010 and sliced that figure in half for 2011, but didn’t anticipate a zero sum for 2012.

“We hadn’t expected full elimination, to tell you the truth,” BoyEs said. “It was a surprise.”

Part of the shock stems from the face that King County and 4-H have a partnership that extends back 109 years, she added.

If there’s a silver lining to be found, it’s in the timing of the budget cycle. The 4-H year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, meaning programs are safe until late summer.

“We’ll go about our normal work,” Boyes said, “while planning for an orderly shutdown of the (King County) 4-H program.”

Things are different on the other side of the White River, she said, where Pierce County government continues to support 4-H efforts.

While the news is admittedly bad, BoyEs and others aren’t going to go down without a fight.

“We’re looking at other options,” she said, noting that she has already scheduled meeting with potential partners that could help with funding.


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