Family learns and teaches in 4-H program
Tammy Dunrud became head leader of the Forest Lake Rangers 4-H club two years ago, but before that she was a supportive leader in the club for 18 years.
During that time her three daughters were taking advantage of 4-H experiences to explore their interests and prepare for careers.
Her daughter Laura, a teacher now, did child development projects in 4-H. “I did everything from a babysitting kit to demonstrating the importance of play for children,” Laura said. She also did fine arts projects.
Giving demonstrations in 4-H “gave me confidence to speak in front of people,” she added. 4-H taught her leadership skills, how to be organized, how to be creative.
Laura teaches reading and math to Title 1 students in kindergarten through fourth grade in Moose Lake.
Tammy said their middle daughter, Alyssa, brought a rocket to the fair every year for the aerospace project. “She’s our science girl,” Tammy said. “Alyssa took small engines.” Now Alyssa is a premed major in college.
Tammy taught all her girls to sew, and third daughter Andrea said sewing is her favorite thing.
“I would like to do fashion design,” Andrea said. For a project “Clothes You Make,” she sewed a knit top and plaid skirt that earned the title grand champion outfit.
Andrea made a wool coat for the fair and also showed it at the Make It Yourself with Wool contest. Many of the national contestants were in 4-H, she recalled. “Some got the wool from their sheep, spun their own yarn,” she said. Of 60 kids competing, she said, about 40 were in 4-H.
Outfits are judged twice. At the fashion review, the criteria are how the clothing looks on the person, how well it fits. The judges talk to the 4-H member about what she learned. At the fair, the clothing will be judged on how well it’s constructed.
For the fair this week, Andrea is completing a set of placemats for her sister Laura’s apartment. She cut out the letters, put fusing on the back, and sewed a zigzag stitch around each letter. The last step is quilting.
Andrea also is refinishing deck chairs in a home environment project. “We got them at a garage sale for $1 each”, she said. The chairs were rusty and white, but after sanding, priming, and painting them black, they will be used on the deck.
Andrea will also play her violin at the fair.
“Pretty much everything I do, I can use at the fair,” she said.
As club leader, Tammy helps kids from other families benefit from 4-H experiences.
“A lot of them come in very quiet, shy, introverted,” she said. “We ask each one to do a demonstration just for the club. Then they do community service. Pretty soon you see the kids blossom. Their confidence goes up,” she said.
One member who came in very quiet, Tammy said, now does Arts In, singing and dancing on a stage.
“To see them shine is one of the reasons I do the leadership role—to give kids those opportunities,” she said.
The Forest Lake Rangers club promotes community service. Once a month the club volunteers as a group. They have played bingo at Birchwood, painting fingernails and planting flowers. They have provided free childcare, including playing with the kids who come to Arts in the Park.
At the Forest Lake community garden, located next to the senior center, the club grew produce and donated it to Community Helping Hand.
Tammy said it takes about a year for new members to understand the process—fair, community service, meetings. But they can join in kindergarten, first or second grade as Clover Buds.
“For those we do a Clover Bud meeting within the 4-H meeting. Junior leaders start the meeting, have fun activities, then go do crafts. We try to make it age-appropriate,” she said.
The club, which meets at the Forest Lake Service Center, has 20 members. At the fair they will be showing chickens, bunnies, and dogs. Several have photography or food projects. One focused on butterflies and moths, one has a small engine, and one just self-published her first book. (That project was in the “self-determined” category.)
The benefits of doing these projects through 4-H? “They get judged. They learn and get feedback for their work. Their accomplishments get recognized,” Tammy said.
And the skills learned pay off in other ways. Andrea said when she applied for student leadership roles at Century Junior High School, she talked about her 4-H experience. “The reason I applied,” she said, was “I had done stuff like that in 4-H and found I really liked it.”
Tammy Dunrud was a staff member in the Early Childhood Family Education program in Forest Lake from 1989 to 2008. Now she works as an independent contractor, helping non-profit orgainzations with grant writing and other administrative functions.