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Contact the 4-H Wildflower Program Committee: 4HWildflower@hcmga.org

4-H Wildflower Program

Purpose

The 4H committee assists 4Hers who take the Wildflowers Project. The projects purpose is to educate children from 3rd to 12th grade on the identification, propagation, uses and appreciation of wildflowers. The committee not only assists the youth, but also provides education for its own members.

History of Committee

  1. In late 1997, Susan Taylor Peterson (the 4H Educator) approached HCMGA about creating an Indiana Wildflower Project for the 4H students. Sometime in late 1997 or very early 1998 Emily Roark (HCMGA co-president) asked if Mary Kraft would consider forming a committee to present a plan to the HCMGA Board in regard to starting a wildflower unit for 4H. At that time INPAWS was promoting the introduction of a wildflower project to the 4H line-up. A few years earlier, a fellow named Anderson had written a pair of wildflower manuals for use by the Marion County 4H.
  2. On September 10, 1998, Mary submitted her plan to the HCMGA board – a rough draft of a grades 3-12 project. Her plan included the hope that we would, as the program grew, address native plants (wildflowers, trees, shrubs, weeds, ferns, grasses) and invasive plants that threaten the native species. We would endeavor to have the students learn a little botany, the reason to plant, preserve and protect natives, how to identify them. HCMGA would provide the volunteers for initial instruction, workshops and field trips. We would produce, copy and collate materials, and would get the assistance of local libraries in ferreting out information that the students could check out.
  3. The 4H Council agreed to fund the obtaining and copying of materials, and to provide necessary workshop materials and equipment for instruction and demonstrations, and to oversee, monitor and assist in the evaluation of the project. Various materials were also obtained from the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, National Association of Conservation Districts, Hamilton Co. Soil & Water Conservation District and Indiana Wildlife federation.
  4. Twelve students signed up by April 1, 1999 deadline (a remarkable number in the eyes of INPAWS and Marion County 4H). For the initial year, we held an exhibit preparation workshop and a wildflower hike in April (Blatchley Nature Study Club woods lead by Joe Roberts), followed by another in the fall.
  5. At the evaluation meeting after the 4H Fair, the committee voted to change the format of one book for all grades to one book for each grade.
  6. Many committee meetings were held at which we worked as subcommittees on the 10 booklets. We had one committee for each of the 3 major levels (Clover, Junior, Senior). The ten booklets were produced and printed for the 2000 4H year.
  7. By the April deadline, 2000, 17 students had signed up. The new format worked well.
  8. In the 2000 year, a workshop was held to assist the students in learning basic botany and exhibition requirements. Papers were handed out explaining materials at public libraries. There were three field trips: a spring wildflower hike at the Blatchley Nature Study Club woods lead by Joe Roberts, a member of that organization; a fall wildflower hike at Cool Creek Park; a fall wildflower hike at Ritchey Woods near Fishers.
  9. In October of 2000, a propagation workshop was added to the project since the latest revision called for the 4Hers to grow wildflowers from seed.
  10. After careful evaluation, we found many mistakes were still in the books. A complete revision was done, and on 1/31/2001, the “finished product” was burned on a CD and submitted to the 4H secretaries for printing and copying.
  11. The 2001 project schedule included an organizational meeting in February, a wildflower drawing workshop in March (led by Dorothy Chase and Carol Griffith), an exhibition & flower preparation workshop in April, a guided wildflower hike at Cool Creek Park in May, a garlic mustard pull (community service) at Cool Creek Park in June, the 4H Fair in July, an evaluation meeting in August, a guided fall wildflower hike at Ritchey Woods in September and a propagation workshop in October.
  12. The 2002 schedule appears to have been similar. Unfortunately, the attendance for the drawing workshop was very low. I suspect the 4Hers preferred to photograph their wildflowers. So this workshop was dropped for 2003.
  13. In 2004 Kathryn Mascaro and Judy Langdon took over as co-chairs. We dropped the guided hikes, due to the occasional embarrassment of having only one or two 4Hers show up for a specially scheduled hike with a naturalist, and replaced the guided hikes with a list of the public wildflower hikes available at nearby parks (Cool Creek Park, Potters Bridge, and Holliday Park). Similarly, we took to advertising community work days at the parks for the community service portion of the project. The propagation workshop was moved to March (to be in the same calendar year as the 4H project), selecting wildflower seed that would germinate in 2 to 6 weeks. The fall wildflower hike became an August hike at West Park in Carmel, led by a member of the committee.
  14. In 2004-5 we revised the glossary which had appeared in the original booklets. It is now a stand alone copy.
  15. In 2005, the judge Mary Welch-Keesey recommended that our manuals be submitted to Purdue to be revised for acceptance by the national 4H organization. Her recommendation was supported by Steve Mayer, Marion County horticulture educator. We were overwhelmed because the 4H wildflower project is strictly a county level project that has yet to reach the state level. (It is in too few counties.) Unfortunately, co-chair Kathryn Mascaro and incoming co-chair Carol Krachon had too many other obligations to pursue this possibility.
  16. In 2006, no one attended the fall wildflower hike, causing us to drop it the following year.
  17. 17. In 2007, no one attended the exhibition prep/botany workshop, causing us to do a combined propagation/ exhibition prep workshop in March of 2008. This combined workshop was well attended. This trend of non-attendance is hitting all 4H workshops and activities, not just the Wildflower Project. 4Hers, like all other children, are over-booked.
  18. Sign-ups for the 4H Wildflower Project have maintained a steady range of 12-18 throughout the history of this project. We do get 4Hers who will stay with the project for a number of years.
  19. The most popular part of our project with the judges, INPAWS, Marion County and other educators is the journal the 4Hers keep, logging all their experiences with nature (not just wildflowers). Everyone feels this is the best way to encourage the 4Hers to get out in, experience and learn about our native habitat.
  20. Emily Roark says that the best thing about the design of the project is the flexibility to change to meet the current situation.