The Stanislaus County Hi 4-H (high school age) recently sent 27 members to Tennessee on an exchange program, including Oakdale Hi 4-H members Tiffany Thompson, Melissa Thompson, Denise Thompson, Emily Pinheiro, Jordan McCain, and Nathan Soares, with leaders Jolene Thompson, Vicki Soares, and Diana Connacher.
While in Tennessee, they lived with other 4-H families in Bedford and Lincoln counties. On the day of arrival, they toured the Bedford County Courthouse and talked with the major. They then enjoyed a Tennessee potluck and the meeting of lots of new friends.
They also learned that sweet tea is a staple at every gathering. A staple of most meals in Tennessee includes barbecue pulled pork, corn in some form, and of course, sweet tea.
Some of the highlights of the trip included a ride aboard the General Jackson paddlewheel showboat, a tour of the Huntsville Space Center in Alabama, tour of the Grist Mill and Falls, and visiting the Opryland Hotel.
They learned about the Tennessee Walking Horses at the Chad Williams Walking Horse Stables, and toured the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Ryman which is the original Opry House in Nashville. Following that they then went to the Grand Ole Opry for an entertaining show.
The rest of the trip included a ride on the Incline Railroad and a white water rafting trip down the Ocoee River, which was a favorite for the whole group. They also toured the Celebration Walking Horse Facilities, the Walking Horse Museum, the Jack Daniels Distillery, and the Deer Valley Beef Ranch.
“The view from just about anywhere we traveled included miles and miles of rolling hills covered in lush green grasses and trees,” said Oakdale leader Jolene Thompson. “We also learned that irrigation is not needed but is just starting to be studied in the area. In the agriculture industry, they keep a close watch on the weather forecast to determine when to cut and bale hay and when to plant the next crop. Some of the major crops in these counties included corn, different hay crops, some row crops like beans, beef cattle, and some dairy cattle. Many of the 4-Hers there show livestock.”
Next year the Stanislaus County group will play host to the Tennessee contingent as they visit California. Some of the sites they’ll be shown will be tours of beef and dairy operations, Yosemite, San Francisco and Alcatraz, the beach near Santa Cruz, Sacramento, and gold country.
The Stanislaus Hi 4-Hers will be fundraising throughout the year to support these activities and the first will be the Milk Bar at this year’s Stanislaus County Fair, which runs July 12-21.
“If you visit the fair, stop in for the best homemade milkshake,” Thompson said.
The group is also planning a fall dinner to fundraise. They’ll be putting together gift bags for each of the Tennessee visitors filled with items from this area such as almonds, information pamphlets, and a T-shirt.
Anyone interested in helping out with the program in any way may contact the Stanislaus County 4-H office at 525-6800.