Nifty Needles 4-H Club


Sewing, Life Skills, Service and Leadership
Wakefield, MA

Parent Page

Do you have questions regarding our club?  Are you confused about what we do as a club?  Do you need to know where to find things? 

We hope this page will help to answer those questions for you.  Please feel free to email questions that might be helpful for you and other parents.  [email protected]

To begin:
Many of your questions might be answered in one of two places.  Please check these out first:  our website and the white member binder that your child receives when they join.  The website has up-to-date newsletters and the year-at-a glance page in order to help you plan your family schedules and let you know what is coming up in more detail.  Please have your child also read these so they are kept informed.  The binder has lots of information concerning some specific things we do like driving directions to events, Visual Presentations, and Record Books.  These binders are also for your benefit as well as your child's.

Other questions you might ask:

  - My child has a special need.  May they still join?
  - I am not able to afford the state 4-H joining fee and some of the supplies.  Can we still
    participate?
    My
child is involved with other school activities and organizations.  Is there still a place for
 
    them with 4-H?
 
- I don't own a sewing machine.  Does the club have one to use?
  - My computer does not let me see all of the information on your site.  How do I get the 
    information?
  - My child needs community service hours for school.  Does 4-H have some things they can
     help with?
  - I thought this was a sewing club.  Why do you do all the other things?
  - As a parent do you have a place for me in 4-H?
    I don't know how to sew to help my child at home.  Does this matter?
  - Why does my child have to sew at home?  Isn't everything done in the club?
  - Can my child join more than one 4-H club?
  - I don't get why the kids need to do these 4-H Record Books.  What are they anyway?
  - I would like my child to have some leadership experiences.  What can they do?
  - Will 4-H help my child get into college?
  - Do I need to be there at the meetings with my child?
  - What if my child doesn't want to participate in a 4-H event?
  - I would like to donate some money to your organization.  How do I do this?
  - I am a cautious parent when it comes to my child and leaving them with other adults. 
     What are your qualifications?
  - My child is shy.  What if the other kids don't talk with my child?
  - I see that there are other 4-H Project areas.  How can my child do one or more when the   
    club isn't doing it?
  - The club is located in Wakefield.  Do I have to live in Wakefield to join?
  - The club is held in a church.  Is your club religious?

 

My child has a special need.  May they still join?

4-H is open to all children.  When you receive your registration packet each year there is a "Policy for Participants to Receive Special Accommodation" for events.  Please read this over.  Our club meetings are held on the second floor of a church, however there is a chairlift
to help members if there is a need. 

As  a 4-H volunteer I as a leader have not had special training to handle all special needs, but I have worked with a variety of special needs.  The parent and I would work together as a team to try to work out the best plan for their child.  There are some safety issues regarding the use of sewing machines that might need to be taken into account and might come into play on how much oversite the child has when sewing.

 

I am not able to afford the state 4-H joining fee and some of the supplies.  Can we still participate?

When your child joins please let your 4-H leader know of your circumstances.  They will ask you to fill out a full or partial waiver.  Clubs are then responsible for making up the difference in the fee through their general budget and fundraising efforts.  We ask that you support these endeavors. 

From time to time our club receives fabric that is available to all members of our club.  Feel free to take advantage of this.  Our club also has some patterns that members may use.

 

My child is involved with other school activities and organizations.  Is there still a place for them with 4-H?

While we would like all children to have the 4-H experience sometimes there are limits on what a child is able to learn when too many meetings are missed.  Our club meets weekly and we do understand that sometimes families have other obligations, however we hope that families take the 4-H learning process seriously if they wish for their child to see improvement and gain the full experience. 

If a child has been involved with 4-H for a number of years faithfully and they are now entering high school and would like to add to their experience with school involvement, please let the 4-H leader know.  We try to arrange for these accommodations and work with the member and their family to encourage involvement in both.  Members may now need to sew more at home in order to finish more complicated projects or garments.  Arrangements may be made with the leader to be sure they are on track with the skills needed.  Other 4-H experiences, like community service and leadership, may come to the forefront and take place at other times to still keep their involvement with the whole club.

I don't own a sewing machine.  Does the club have one to use?

The club owns several machines that are available for loan during the year.  Please fill out the loan agreement form that the leader will give.  Families are responsible for keeping the machine in a safe place from pets or other children.  The family is responsible for bringing the machine to each meeting.  Machines and their associated supplies (case, instruction manual, attachments, etc) are loaned for one year and may be reloaned again after having the leader check the machine for needed cleaning. 

My computer does not let me see all of the information on your site.  How do I get the information?

Please let your 4-H leader know so that they may pass the information on to you in a timely manner.

 My child needs community service hours for school.  Does 4-H have some things they can help with?

Absolutely and we always love it when members wish to do more community service.  Our club has several service projects we do each year: the state 4-H food drive and several service sewing projects.  Our county 4-H program also receives requests other clubs or groups to help in a variety of ways and the state 4-H Operation Military Kids program is always looking for helpers for various children's events.

Members may also design their own 4-H service projects that are helpful to others.  Would they like to hold a fashion show with other 4-H members to raise funds for an organization?  Would they like to get the club to collect items to help with a project?  The club leader is willing to work with the members to help them use any of these ideas or come up with their own using their unique talents and interests.

The club also is registered with the President's Volunteer Service Award program and members may receive community service awards through the 4-H Records Program.

I thought this was a sewing club.  Why do you do all the other things?

4-H is an educational outreach program of the United States Department of Agriculture through land-grant universities and its Extension  Program.  Each club may have its own interest area it focuses on, but as a 4-H club is more well-rounded.  When joining the Nifty Needles 4-H club your child is joining all that 4-H has to offer.  Our club focuses on the project of clothing and textiles of which learning how to sew is one part,  but also offers the full 4-H experience.  We hope that your family will try to give all of 4-H a try.

As a parent do you have a place for me in 4-H?

There are lots of opportunities for parents to help in 4-H:
    Our club could use: parent helpers who sew, fundraisers, drivers for events, and chaperones for some events.  If you would like to learn how to sew in order to help our club members this can also be arranged.  We need a parent auditor for our finacial records each year and parents are also welcome to take the lead role in mentoring members with events.
   The county program needs helpers on the advisory council, fundraisers for county programs and scholarships, fair helpers, event planners, and adults with new ideas.  
   The 4-H program also welcomes parents to start new 4-H clubs using their individual expertise or hobby to help youth learn something new.   If you would like to help in any capacity please speak with our club leader. 

I don't know how to sew to help my child at home.  Does this matter?

While it is helpful for a parent to have some knowledge about the sewing machine and how to sew, this is not a requirement for our club.  The members will learn all that is needed at the club meetings so that they can replicate these techniques at home.  This would be a great opportunity for you to learn from your child if you would like to learn to sew and a wonderful leadership opportunity for your child.

Why does my child have to sew at home?  Isn't everything done in the club?

Most first year or second year sewing members will complete their garment project at the club meetings as long as they are faithful in coming to the club meetings.  However, when members are involved with other activities that keep them away from regular sewing meetings or when older 4-H members have more complicated projects, sewing at home will be needed.   Some special sewing times may be arranged with the leader so that the member understands how to do their project with the new skills they need to complete it.

Can my child join more than one 4-H club?

Yes.  When they join their primary club in the fall they fill out the registration form and pay the yearly state 4-H joiner's fee.  On the enrollment form it asks if the member is a member of any other 4-H clubs.  Please fill in all of the clubs they are with.   They only need to fill out the paperwork and pay the 4-H state fee once through their primary club.  The paperwork is copied at the 4-H office to place with their other clubs.  However, if a member is involved in more than one county the leader will ask the member to fill out the paperwork for that primary club in that county so that we have the health and liability forms on record there and within that club.  Please be sure to copy the health form to give to each leader for each 4-H club you are involved with. 

When it comes to competitions:  The 4-H member may enter competitions in only one county based on their yearly choice of county/primary club.    For example:  If a member is enrolled in 2 counties and in 2 clubs in each county they must choose their primary club.  Based on which county 4-H office this club is registered, this is where the member must choose their competition unless otherwise specified.  All animal competitions like Horse Bowl/Hippology and Record Awards must be only through that county 4-H program.  The Visual Presentation program allows members to choose another county competition event to go to if they can not make their own county competition, but member must only compete in one county.   County 4-H Fairs are open to all members enrolled in that county so members may compete in more than one county 4-H fair in one year.   The Nifty Needles 4-H Club is registered with the Middlesex County 4-H Program.

I don't get why the kids need to do these 4-H Record Books.  What are they anyway?

As a club leader I encourage all members to participate in the 4-H Awards Program which is done by filling out their 4-H Record Books.  Information on this is in their white member binder and several of our club meetings during the year help members to learn how to do this. 

This program teaches members the life skill of how to interpret instructions and filling out forms.  Although not a very exciting skill for most members it is one that is necessary for their future.  Members learn how to condense their words, understand the skill of using numbers for showing growth,  the use of bullet statements, using photographs and newsclippings as support, and financial record keeping.  The 4-H Award Program recognizes the work that the members have done in 4-H and in their outside activities through the year.  After submitting the Record Book to the county office, 4-H volunteers trained in the program review the books and may recommend awards in the  project area(s) for which the member has entered.  I strongly urge members to begin this program in the first year they join and not later.

In adddition to awards the Record Book serves as a record for the child in other areas they may need to have information whether it be for college scholarship applications, job applications, helping in remembering events for other groups, school community service hours, etc.

I would like my child to have some leadership experiences.  What can they do?

Our club has opportunities for children to learn leadership skills.  In November each year we hold an election of officers.  During this time members try to persuade others to vote for them for a specific office.  The elected members serve in their position for one year.  Each of these positions would be considered a leadership position.  Some take a forefront position, like president or community service coordinator.  Others are done behind the scenes such as webmaster or reporter. 

Members in our club who are 12 years of age or older are also invited to be a part of our Junior Leadership team.   They meet several times during the year to learn leadership skills to make plans for upcoming club events.  Those members who would like to be trained as mentors assist new members who join the club in learning how to sew and about 4-H activities. 

On the county and state level their are other areas that members may be a part of.  They may be workshop leaders or assistants, be on the leadership councils in their counties, lead games at workshop days, be in charge of the county or state fashion shows, be a CIT at a 4-H camp, etc.  The leader will work with the member to help guide them to the best area(s)

Will 4-H help my child get into college?

4-H can be a great start to helping your child become familiar with their desired career goals.  Members may choose other project areas beside "Clothing" that may guide them in learning more about their future field.   Please let your 4-H leader know of this desire to connect with their future goals and they will help in any way they can to connect you to 4-H programs in this area.

Some members have also found that by participating in the 4-H Visual Presentation Program and the Records Award Program, doing their community service projects and engaging in leadership experiences have helped them to show colleges and universities that they have a well-rounded background.  Some have used their 4-H Record Books and photographs of their project area as a portfolio for their schools and have made contacts with professors at some of their schools of choice by participating in 4-H events held there. 

 Do I need to be there at the meetings with my child?

If a parent would like to attend our club meetings they are most welcome and we encourage them to see what their child is doing and learn, too.  However parents do not need to attend the meetings.  During the year parents are asked to encourage their child in their project area and in their 4-H activities, support their child by driving them to events, reading the website, newsletters, and e-mails, putting 4-H events on their home calendars, and by checking in with the leader on their progress.  Parents are also encouraged to let the leader know of circumstances in their home or at the child's school where members may be under more stress or if their child has a change in their health. 

What if my child doesn't want to participate in a 4-H event?

First let the leader know of this.  Sometimes the child either has misunderstood what is involved or does not think they are able to get  to the event.  If this is the case the leader will explain more fully what is involved.   Many times some adjustments may be made to help the child gain the initial courage to attend or other parent volunteers may be able to offer transportation.  If the parent wishes for the child to participate because the parent thinks the event is beneficial for the member and/or the club please let the leader know of your decision.

If the club is hosting events such as fundraising for club expenses or publicity booths all members should participate in some way if available, even if they are not available for the particular day or wish not to be the main focus of attention.   Preparation prior to the event is always helpful.

Should the child still not wish to be involved the leader will gently continue to encourage them to try something new, but a child is never forced to participate.   

At the present time the club members have not approved of a club "code of participation".  Should that change and one is established there may be some consequence if the child does not participate such as not being able to go to a club event or not being able to have access to trip funds.

The Massachusetts 4-H Programs has a "4-H Member Code of Conduct" that they must sign when they join 4-H which applies no matter what they are doing in 4-H.  Please refer to this.  A copy is made and placed in the member's white binder.

I would like to donate some money to your organization.  How do I do this?

We'd love your financial support!!  Make checks out to "Nifty Needles 4-H Club" and send to our club c/o 3 Walden Rd, Wakefield, MA 01880 or hand in at our club meetings. 

I am a cautious parent when it comes to my child and leaving them with other adults.  What are your qualifications?

I have worked with children for over 35 years in a variety of ways.  Although I do not have an education degree  I have been a 4-H leader for 30 years - 10 years in RI and 20 years in MA, worked with camps and conferencing programs, taught Sunday School to ages 2 and older, was a church youth leader for 15 years, helped to organize the Wakefield community Vacation Bible School for three years and a VBS in RI prior to that, was a parent library aid at the Dolbeare and Galvin Middle Schools, former Dolbeare PTO president and past President, Treasurer, and uniform coordinator of the WHS Music Boosters.  I have two grown daughters who also were a part of the MA 4-H Program and I am the wife of a Wakefield pastor.  I have worked as an Administrative Assistant at a local church and also as a fitness instructor/trainer to youth and adults at the Reading YMCA.
 
As a 4-H volunteer I have been interviewed by the MA State 4-H Program Director and am CORI'd through the 4-H program.  The State Director has also allowed me the privilege of working with 4-H members through chaperoning state delegates to Atlanta, Georgia for the National 4-H Congress and organizing the MA 4-H Program in the New England Center at the Eastern States Exposition.  Please feel free to contact the contact 4-H office if you have any questions or concerns. 

My child is shy.  What if the other kids don't talk with my child?

That is normal for many first time members.  I urge our members to get to know each other by asking them to share information about themselves and by teaching sewing techniques in a group format at the beginning of the year.  New members are also paired up with a member mentor to help them.  Many times it takes members up to a half a year to click with other members.  Sometimes it is through the Visual Presentation part of our meetings that our members feel free to speak with other.  It could be that we have a varied age range and younger members are sometimes too self-conscious to speak with older members.  It might be that other members are also shy and find it hard to speak with others they do not know.   I particularly encourage our older members to help the younger members to feel more a part of the club.  If this is a particular problem please let our leader be more aware of the situation.   We never wish for a child to feel like an outsider and even if shy our members would feel very badly if they knew that others did not feel welcome.  

I see that there are other 4-H Project areas.  How can my child do one or more when the club isn't doing it?

Once the leader knows that a member would like to participate in other project areas they work with the child to help them establish goals for it.  They also help them come up with plans for how they will progress and choose a mentor for the project.  4-H has a variety of curriculum to help self-guide members in project areas outside of club work.  The member should find a way to either learn about this project area and/or share what they learned in it with other 4-H members whether in the club or in the county.  There are a variety of ways this could happen depending on the project area.  The member could find another club with that project area of interest and join that club, the state holds workshops and competitions for some areas, the Visual Presentation Program and the county Winter Forum Workshop Day is a great way for the member to share the information with others, and members may with the assistance of a 4-H volunteer decide to have a short-term 4-H club with community children to teach them about this project area.  These are only some ways in which this project could be integrated.   Go on our website to the "4-H Project Information" page for a list of all the MA 4-H Project areas.  Remember that these are overall project areas that may cover a wide variety of specific subject fields. 

The club is located in Wakefield.  Do I have to live in Wakefield to join?

Members in our club are from a variety of towns.  We only ask that you take into consideration how much time it takes to travel to our site.  School closing times and Friday afternoon road traffic are sometimes a problem depending on where  you are coming from.

The club is held in a church.  Is your club religious?

Our club has been granted use of the room in the church along with a storage space.  4-H is a non-religious organization and open to all youth.  Individual members are free to openly express their views as long as they do not conflict with the "4-H Member Code of Conduct" .  Clubs must not affiliate themselves in name with a religious group nor as a club hold to certain religious/faith viewpoints.   Clubs, however, are welcome to help religous organizations through leadership and/or service projects.

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