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4-H Club reaches 100-year milestone

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Mary Lou Barricklow and grandson Ronnie Duvall of the Barnesville Progressive Home Helpers 4-H Club in Barnesville mark the club’s 100th year at the Belmont County Junior Fair. See Page B1 for more images from the Belmont County Junior Fair.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Barnesville Progressive Home Helpers 4-H Club is celebrating 100 years of empowering young people to make positive changes in their community.

The club and its activities were featured throughout the past week at the 4-H barn during the Belmont County Junior Fair.

“Our club in Belmont County has existed under the same name for 100 years,” Mary Lou Barricklow of Barensville said, noting two groups came together to form the consolidated club. “One started out as the Barnesville Progressive Club and one was the Home Helpers Club.”

Barricklow recalls her mother, Dorothy Kaiser, and her involvement with the club. That involvement became a family tradition.

“My mother became an adviser in the 1960 area, and she was an adviser for 63 years,” Barricklow said. “She was an adviser, I was an adviser and my daughter was an adviser, so we had three generations as advisers at that time.”

Barricklow’s other children are also advisers.

She pointed out history on display at the junior fair building, including pictures of Camp Wetzel and Camp Captina dating from the 1940s, where the club has been active. There were also pictures of the Rockwell Orchard in Barnesville. Barricklow said Elizabeth Rockwell was one of the original club members.

Some of the group’s community service projects have involved Camp Piedmont 4-H Camp on Piedmont Lake.

“We made sure we had enough money to get recycled wood. We did all the benches and all the landscaping in that area. We also made sure there were picnic tables and so forth for a shelter house that got built up there. That was a big project of ours,” she said.

She added that the club has always stressed community service. And over the years, members have also been to national 4-H conventions in Chicago.

“It’s a very difficult thing to achieve,” she said. “We’ve had several state awards and several national awards.”

Barricklow added that 4-H has become a tradition for many local families.

“It isn’t just a family, it is an adopted family, because agriculture people will continually run across each other for years and years later.”

She said her father was a Future Farmers of America vocational agricultural teacher.

“I still hear names and run across people, and my family runs across people,” she said. “Now, a lot of their grandchildren are back here.

“What it means to me personally is watching all these little diamonds in the rough develop and start shining.”

Barricklow said 4-H provides young people a chance to demonstrate competence and hone their abilities, in areas ranging from agriculture to public speaking and interviewing.

“A lot of their careers have been involved and started back with 4-H programs and evolved from that to careers. They were able to interview well because they have to interview for all their project judging,” she said.

“Public speaking is very important, and when you start that at 8 years old, you don’t realize you’re supposed to be scared,” she said.

She added that the club’s projects have continued during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“During COVID it’s been difficult in the sense that we haven’t been able to meet publicly. We’ve had to do a lot of Zoom meetings or meetings where we’re contacting through (online sources)” Barricklow said.

She said young members have continued to work on their projects through the pandemic.

“It’s so important these kids stay with this program. They learn about responsibility, leadership, respect, trustworthiness — it’s just a wonderful program.”

Her grandson, Ronnie Duvall of Barnesville, raises pigs and participated in the junior fair.

“I really enjoy the fair because it’s a good way to learn a lot about life and a lot about agriculture, and it’s a really fun experience with you and your friends,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of setbacks due to the corona, but one of the main things was not being able to have the state fair. That was a big bummer because we had purchased state fair hogs,” he said.

“We got to spend more time with our animals and be better prepared for the fair.”

He plans to continue to pursue agriculture.

“When I grow up, I want to become an agricultural teacher, because it helps other kids know about 4-H and FFA and all the great things about agriculture that they might not have got growing up.”

2020 is also a milestone for the Somerton Ridge Runners 4-H Club, which is marking its 50th year.

4-H programming is delivered by more than 100 public universities across the nation, providing experiences where young people learn by doing. Nearly 6 million children and teens have participated in 4-H in its more than a century of existence.

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