Head, Heart, Hands and Health
Recognize the words? If so, you might have a touch of rural experience in your blood. Those are the four values in 4-H.
In the early 1990s, a youngster in Fairfax County with an interest in agriculture had few options. But there was interest, and there was a farm, and out of that came Frying Pan Farm Park's Hoofers and Heifers 4-H Club.
The Fairfax County Park Authority partnered with Fairfax County 4-H and began a 4-H Livestock Project Club with youth volunteers at Frying Pan Park. Members now had a place for learning and hands-on experience. Park animals received more care, and the visiting public saw well-trained animals on display.
Today, 4-H club members adopt one of the park's animals as a project and exhibit their animals at the annual 4-H Fair. Some members have extended their skills and knowledge beyond the park and county boundaries by showing pigs, cattle, sheep, and goats at other fairs at the state and national levels. Two won Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion Market Hogs at the Virginia State Fair the same year.
Along the way, local club leaders established stockman's livestock judging and meat judging teams. The stockman's team won the Virginia state contest and advanced to the national contest in the fall of 2000, where they placed third overall, led by high individual honoree Laura Galante. Her teammates were Monica Ganley, Charlotte Hansen and James Galante.
The following summer, Laura, Monica and Charlotte teamed with Patrick Blasé to win the Virginia state Meats Judging contest and advance to the American Royal National Meats Judging contest.
The club at Frying Pan is involved in county-wide 4-H events, such as presentations, public speaking and a program called Share-the-Fun. The club once won the best act award at the annual Share-the-Fun competition with a performance called "Milk Cow Blues." The Hoofers and Heifers are a community outreach tool for Frying Pan. Members take animals to schools, churches and other community events. The club also is a volunteer force at large Park Authority special events revolving around agriculture, events that often attract thousands of people.
Several Frying Pan Farm Park staffers are former 4-H members, including Farm Manager Paul Nicholson, Farm Assistant Samantha Nagurny and former Assistant Farm Manager Mike Longfellow. Even some board members of the Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park have that Head, Heart, Hands and Health history.
4-H club meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. New members are always welcome. Call 703-437-9101 for more information.