4-H program starts in October
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Learning by doing, meeting new people and building leaders of tomorrow is the 4-H club way, even when it comes to working with furry, four-legged friends.
The 4-H Dog Masters Club in Indian River County is getting organized once again and new members and sponsors are sought.
Youth from ages 8 to 18 can learn to care for, train and show their canine companions during weekly meetings on Saturday mornings at the Dogs for Life off-leash dog park in Vero Beach, said Lindsay Adams, 4-H youth development agent.
The club took a one-year hiatus last year, but is ready to get back into gear this year, she said.
The 4-H Dog Masters Club took on a community service project in 1997 that led to the eventual creation of the membership-based Dogs for Life off-leash dog park in Vero Beach, said Shelly Ferger, director of the park and the club leader.
"They lobbied the city and the county for a dog park and that's exactly how the dog park came to be. We are now our own nonprofit and it wouldn't have happened without their vision," she said.
Between 1997 and 2008 the idea for the park grew among the community and funds were donated to lease, develop, then purchase the property at the corner of 12th Street and 16th Avenue, near Vero Beach Elementary School, for the dog park.
Since 2002, the nonprofit Dogs for Life has been a grateful sponsor of the club and offers their park for student and animal training classes for the club, Ms. Ferger said.
Not only do students get the benefit of working with their family pet and building a better relationship, the discipline and development of life skills by caring for an animal are also excellent.
"Shelly is a great leader and is very active with the kids," Ms. Adams said.
There is a $10 enrollment fee per club member, which covers insurance for the member, Ms. Adams said.
At the end of the year, Dogs for Life will host a dog show, Ms. Ferger said.
Weekly meetings will be held on Saturday mornings at the dog park. For exact times, contact Ms. Ferger.
For more information about the 4-H Dog Masters Club, call Ms. Ferger at (772) 567-8969. To make a donation, or to learn more about Dogs for Life, visit www.dogsforlifevb.org.