MEDINA — Morgan Domokos wasn’t around when 4-H got off the ground in Medina County.
The youth organization was introduced locally in 1919 with the first official meeting in the county taking place in January 1921.
But she said Tuesday that she is excited to see how the 4-H Youth Development Program has progressed in the county in the last century. And, as 4-H in Medina County readies to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Domokos said 4-H is thriving even as today’s youths are drawn in myriad directions.
Domokos, who has been a 4-H educator in Medina County since 2014, said she’s aware of the ebb and flow in membership numbers. In 2017, there were 1,092 4-H members in the county. Membership levels dropped to 981 youth in 2018.
“Part of it is the high school students tend to get busier and have to make choices — like sports and band,” she said. “There is a dip in those high school years.”
Nonetheless, membership levels continue to place Medina County in the top 20 counties in the state in regards to 4-H enrollment.
According to the 2017 annual report from The Ohio State University Extension Office, Medina County ranked 16 in enrollment figures. Ross County led the state with 1,742 4-H members in 2017, followed by Licking County with 1,623 members and Muskingum County with 1,622 4-H members.
Nearby counties include Lorain County with 1,230 4-H members, according to the 2017 report, and 376 4-H members in Summit County and 1,527 4-H members in Wayne County .
Domonkos said 4-H remains viable because the organization has evolved its focus over the years while staying true to its agricultural roots.
“It’s because of all the different offerings,” she said. “4-H used to be rooted in agriculture. Now there’s STEM and STEAM offered. It is reaching new audiences and growing.”
Domokos said additional programming has allowed Medina County to keep it members near 1,000 youth annually.
“We’re hoping to see some growth this year with some extra marketing and promotion,” Domokos said.
“And maybe some excitement about the 100 years.”
She said for the most part, 4-H is self-promoting.
The Ohio State University Extension Office will celebrate the 4-H birthday from 7-9:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, with a Boot Scootin’ Birthday Bash, a dance for current 4-H members and potential new members. It will be held at Root Candle’s community room.
“The anticipation has been building for a couple years (for the 100th birthday),” Domokos said. “It’s for our 4-H community to engage in fun.”
The 4-H program is fun, but it is also educational. Domokos said 525 4-H members engaged in programming last year to increase safety awareness and accident prevention. Also, 111 youth participated in overnight camps sponsored by OSU Extension.
She said the work with youths in the community will continue as long as adults see the value in 4-H. For that, the news is promising.
Domokos said 40 adults have applied and begun the process to become new Medina County 4-H volunteers in 2019.
There are 38 4-H clubs in Medina County in 2019, represented by 60 volunteers.
“It’s exciting times having almost 1,000 members,” she said.