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Pay It Forward: 4-H

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The Bonneville County Fair happens all this week. One of the biggest parts of the fair, is 4-H. KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz caught up with some of the local youth involved, plus a parent and the leader of Bonneville County 4-H to see how the kids benefit from the program, and to Pay It Forward.

"It teaches kids to care for something other than themselves," said Alaena Ruth, Bonneville County extension educator and 4-H youth development coordinator. This is her third fair.

4-H is America's largest youth development organization. Nearly six million young people across the United States take part, according to its website.

"It gives kids an opportunity to do something with their hands or to learn something new, to really just learn outside of a school setting," said Ruth.

She said if you can think it, 4-H has a curriculum for learning it, from farming to sewing, robotics, learning about microbes, or even the science behind cooking. Many of these kids develop their passions and begin to look at possible careers down the road. 4-H involves kids in Cloverbuds from ages 5 to 7 and the regular 4-H program from age 8 to 18. The kids involved really love it.

"Just having fun. Being with friends and getting to experience these animals being their companion," said Ryan Johnston, a 12-year-old who is now in this third year of 4-H.

"Well, I do like that each animal has their own personality. And I enjoy that we get to raise an animal straight from being a baby. It's a lot of fun. It teaches us that respect for other animals," said Hunter Warnke, who is 12 years old and in his fourth year.

These kids develop life skills. It's a broad range of learning. Look at the four leaves of the 4-H clover, they stand for head, heart, health, and hands. Brandi Warnke is a parent and 4-H leader who sees the kids learn in all four of these areas.

"Financial. They have to keep their money books and buy their animals. They have to manage their food expenses, promote themselves, go out within the community and talk to businesses about what they're doing and how important it is. Such a well-rounded program, if you're looking for an opportunity for your little one, this is just an amazing experience," said Warnke.

It's time to Pay It Forward. 

"Life skills are a huge part of 4-H. And I think it teaches kids a lot the skills that they,..." said Ruth, as a man walked up and interrupted her interview.

"Alaena, how are you?" said the man.

"Hi. Good. How about yourself?" replied Ruth

"Good. I'm Kory with Mountain America Credit Union," he said.

"Nice to meet you," said Ruth.

"We've heard about what you're doing with the 4-H group here in Bonneville County," said Kory Carling.

"OK. Yeah," said Ruth.

"And all that you're trying to accomplish," said Carling.

"Yes," replied Ruth.

"And raise money," said Carling.

"Yes," said Ruth.

"So I'm here to Pay It Forward," said Carling.

"Holy cow!" said Ruth.

"So I've brought with me today $500," said Carling.

"Oh my gosh!" said Ruth.

"That I know you can use," said Carling.

"Yes, yes, yes!" said Ruth.

"To continue to further the program within our community," said Carling.

"Yeah. Yes," said Ruth.

"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union," said Carling.

"Thank you so much," said Ruth.

"I'd like to present $500 to you and 4-H," said Carling.

"Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. This is going to help go toward the kids and a new fairgrounds and wow, thank you so much. I really appreciate it," said Ruth.

"Absolutely. You've got angels looking out for you. So we'd like to Pay It Forward," said Carling.

"I really appreciate that. If this was you guys, I'm going to cry and I don't really want to. OK. Thank you," said Ruth.

"You're welcome," said Carling.

"Oh my gosh. You guys are incredible!" said Ruth.

The market animal sale is Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Bonneville County 4-H pavilion on Rollandet Street in Idaho Falls. The public is invited to bid or buy an animal.

If you live within the city limits and think that you don't have room for animal, or your child can't be in 4-H because of that, there are ways. In fact, the Warnkes provide space on their farm for some city kids to raise their animals there, so talk to 4-H leaders about this possibility.

"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at

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Todd Kunz

Todd is an anchor for Eyewitness News 3, Local News 8 and Fox 5.


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