By Matt B. Walen
Thirty-two Hi-Line residents will journey southeast June 10 for a five-day, 4-H educational exchange with Clinton, N.C.
The 27 4-H members and five chaperones from the Havre area will complete the two-year exchange with other 4-Hers from Sampson County in the heart of the Tar Heel state, said Kim Springer, a 4-H mom and veteran of the exchanges.
Sampson County, with a population of 47,500, is agriculture-based and has 41 different commodities produced commercially. Those products include field crops, vegetables and fruits, forestry, hogs, cattle and poultry.
Springer said the Montana kids will get to tour some of the farms including a hog production, turkey farm and some of the vegetable farms.
Both groups will have a lot in common because of the agriculture similarities, Springer said. The 4-Hers filled out questionnaires and the kids with compatible interests were matched up the first time around, she said.
But the trip wont just be an exercise in work there will be plenty of fun things for the Montana members to do in the five days. Sightseeing, beach and theme park trips are all on the agenda for the local 4-Hers.
The 22 members and five chaperones from North Carolina arrived in Montana last June and spent a week learning about life along the Hi-Line, Springer said.
The weather last year didnt cooperate when the North Carolina 4-Hers arrived to Montana, Springer said. But the kids did get to see a lot of Havre, the Hi-Line and Montana and some of Canada, she said.
During their stay here many of us were here in Hill County, Springer said. We saw the Bear Paws and spent time riding horses, bowled, toured Beneath the Streets and did some fishing.
Some of the families made trips to Glacier and Yellowstone national Parks and some even made a day trip to Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Springer said.
North Carolina was a hard sell because the members previous exchange didnt go so well, Springer said. A host family for a couple of 4-Hers from North Carolina didnt have running water or floors in their home, she said.
I have heard nothing but great response of their stay here, she said.
Part of the exchange includes taking a little bit of Montana to the host state and families in North Carolina, Springer said. The 4-Hers have contacted several Montana businesses in hopes of making gift baskets with Montana made items to give to the host families and the response has been great, she said.
The 4-H exchanges are open to any 4-Hers who are 14 or older before the traveling date, Springer said. The Havre group usually hosts first and then travels to the exchange state the next summer, she said.
Usually the exchanges are kept within 100 to 200 miles, Springer said. But living in a state the size of Montana really limits that option, she said.
The 4-Hers worked hard raising money to off set the trips cost through various fund-raisers including clipping coupons and pasting them on to sale items at Gary and Leos IGA, rummage sales and working food booths at local events. The kids also performed a one-act dinner play last year during an appreciation banquet.
Springer said she has worked on the exchanges for the past five years and has enjoyed the experience.
Ive found it to be a lot of work, but very rewarding watching young people experience things for the first time, she said.
Some of the experiences are good and bad.
The group that toured Tennessee two years ago had people who had never flown before, Springer said. One 4-Her had painful ringing in her ears and several of the members experienced air sickness, she said.