By Seth Hopkins

4-H youth development program coordinator, MSU Extension Lake County

This year the Lake County 4-H Baseball and Softball Program went in a new direction with the formation of the Lake County 4-H Little League. This change included the creation of a 4-H Club, or in baseball terms, a board of directors that managed the program with only administrative help from MSU Extension, 4-H. This board of directors included a very dedicated group of individuals that put a super amount of time and energy into trying to streamline this program.

As the season comes to a close and you have a chance, please thank these volunteers for making this program available to our Lake County youth. Without Lee Moore, Jerry TenBrink, Jason Moore, John Kirwin and Bill Buckley there wouldn’t be an organized baseball or softball program available to our youth. In addition, all the coaches are very much appreciated individuals and are key players in making youth baseball and softball programming a success. Thank you coaches and we hope that you will be back again.

In addition, community financial sponsors make it possible for youth to get uniforms and help with equipment purchases. This year there seemed to be a greater amount of community sponsors than ever before. Thank you Baldwin ACE Hardware, Community Thrift Shop, Baldwin Dairy Queen, Pattie Drug, Lake-Osceola State Bank, Cole Insurance, Northern Treasures, Pompeii’s Pizza and Baldwin Quick Stop for your support of our county youth.

Finally, especially in the younger ages, I want to thank the parents that were continuously involved in the program and encouraged other parents to get involved in future years.

In conclusion, as this year’s season closes, it is important to take a moment to think about what this program accomplishes for our area youth. A new dedicated volunteer board of directors, tremendous community sponsorship and close to 70 youth participants from ages 5 to 13 meeting at least two times a week to play ball. What does this mean? It means the Lake County 4-H Little League club has provided approximately 2,240 hours of healthy physical activity and role modeling to our area youth. When youth meet to play baseball or softball it is important to remember they are gaining life skills that promote building self-esteem, good sportsmanship, teamwork, character growth, positive youth and adult relationships and decision making. In short, youth are gaining the skills and opportunities they need for positive growth and development. We hope to see you next year as we strive to make the program bigger and better!