Residents at Oesterlen Services for Youth work on building a pathway for a NANO Bug to follow Thursday during the Oesterlen County Fair. Bill Lackey/Staff

This special fair teaches important lessons for Clark County youth

Oesterlen-Services for Youth hosted its second annual 4-H fall fair this week to celebrate the hard work of its residents.

The activities and lessons learned through several projects can be a pathway to buildings better relationships, Oesterlen Executive Director Don Warner said.

“The kids participate in the local county fair and then we have a fall fair here at Oesterlen for those kids who for whatever reason (weren’t) able to participate in the county fair,” he said. “It helps to build social skills, helps to provide therapeutic treatment opportunities with the kids. It’s a great opportunity.”

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The Oesterlen 4-H club has had success at the county fair, Pastor Bonny Kinnunen said, including winning ribbons for chickens this summer. She said the other activities like painting pumpkins, baking and decorating cakes and creating wreaths challenge the kids to think ahead.

“(The kids) really enjoy the process for what they want to do and planning what they want to do,” she said.

The kids being involved with 4-H at Oesterlen can mean getting experience for them to join another 4-H at a later time.

“Typically, they may not have the opportunity to join a 4-H club prior to their time here,” Kinnunen said. “But here, when they get the opportunity to partake. It is a skill they can take when they leave here. There are 4-H clubs all over the country and anywhere the child would go, they would be able to join.”

The 4-H club can also provide students with opportunities for when they become adults, Warner said.

“The primary thing is that we want the kids to pick a project that they are interested in,” he said. “It helps them to build some job skills, relationship building skills and we go forward with that.”

The kids get a chance to interact with each other also, Warner said, which is good practice for when they are out in the real world.

Kinnunen said the club started because of a dream to offer their kids something that might not have been available to them before they got to the campus.

The projects were graded by local guest judges including Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, Clark County Sheriff Chief Deputy Travis Russell, Clark County Clerk of Court Melissa Tuttle, Springfield City Schools District Supervisor Georgette Razor, and Springfield commission candidate Rob Rue.

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