Lenawee 4-H’ers raise money for community investment
By Katie Alexander
In Lenawee County, it was not only police who were at risk of harm but community members and animals also because of the lack of catch poles in police vehicles.
A group of 16 4-H’ers involved in the Dog Gone Fun Club in Lenawee County were looking for a community service project that would give back to their community. They found it when, through contacts and research, they learned that there was a limited number of animal catch poles to be shared among the local police patrol vehicles.
“Not having catch poles in vehicles required officers either to call and wait for Animal Control or to handle a stressful situation without proper equipment.” said Janelle Stewart, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator.
By conducting a survey with the state, city, county and township police in Lenawee County, the 4-H’ers determined that 40 poles were needed.
“Before the donation, we had only one catch pole that was kept in our office,” said Lt. Jeff Ewald, Lenawee Sheriff Department. “Our patrol officers are often dispatched to dog complaints. If they needed the pole, they would have to return to the office or have another deputy bring the pole to them.”
The 4-H’ers researched the sizes and types of poles to determine which would be best for the officers on the basis of vehicle sizes and types of animals in the area that officers may encounter regularly. After pricing the poles out and setting a budget, they began a fund‑raising campaign to raise $4,000.
By doing bake sales, walking dogs, and making and selling homemade dog treats, the group was on a successful path, but the youth wanted to take on more. They decided to create a presentation to enhance their public speaking skills and to promote the cause.
Working with local legislators, the 4-H’ers made their first presentation at a legislative dinner. Impressed by the research and professionalism of the young adults, community members were quick to invite the group to make the presentation throughout the area.
The fund-raising efforts began in January 2011. Though the 4-H’ers had planned a yearlong project, they reached their goal of $4,000 by June, and the officers in Lenawee County received the donated 40 poles a half-year early.
“With the donated poles, our officers now have a pole in all the patrol units,” Ewald said. “They can now respond to animal complaints much quicker and handle a problem before it gets worse.”
“Not only did the youth make a strong, positive community impact, but they learned and were able to implement important life skills,” said Stewart. “This was a very important project for the community and also the kids.
“Research, identifying and seeking out the product, public speaking and presenting, dressing appropriately—it was a great growth transformation for the kids. They learned about budgeting, to stay within their set budget, they recognized donors with plaques and thanks you’s, and they learned how to cut costs and save money,” said Stewart.
The 4-H’ers from the Lenawee County Dog Gone Fun Club are part of the nationwide 4-H Revolution of Responsibility campaign. The campaign is an effort by youth across the United States to identify community issues and take action to defeat the standing obstacles and solve the problem. The aim of the uncommon youth efforts is to create a culture‑changing revolution nationwide by building strong, positive communities.