Staff Reporter 

West Plains Rangers 4-H club enjoys growth spurt

Organization is not just about raising farm animals any longer


West Plains Rangers

West Plains Rangers 4-H members Mavrick and KyleeJo Rasmussen lay a wreath at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery.

Toss out the notion of just what the idea of a 4-H club is all about and what kind of feedback might one expect?

Surely it would most likely revolve around farms and animals.

But as West Plains Rangers 4-H club leader Brianne Rasmussen will quickly point out, there is much, much more to the organization that had its birth in 1902, lists approximately six million members and 25 million alumni.

It's simply not just about raising a prize pig, lamb or goat, but rather instilling numerous life skills, most no longer touched on in our test-driven education system.

As its website will tell those who point and click, "The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach."

But one does not have to live on, or have farming in their blood to be a member.

"We've got people from the (Spokane) South Hill, we've got a girl that just joined us and is doing our sewing club," Rasmussen said. That person had looked into Girl Scouts but did not have a connection and turned to 4-H.

Rasmussen got involved in 4-H about seven years ago when her daughter raised pigs. At the time, that took place in a Cheney group.

When she moved to Medical Lake, the family got involved in North Country 4-H. Three to four years ago, Rasmussen and a partner took over the group and changed the name to West Plains Rangers. In 2017 Rasmussen took over solo leadership of the group.

"We're just growing, we're amazed at the interest," Rasmussen said. The club has 30 members, 19 of which do the traditional farm animal activities.

And some, like nine-year-old Addison Hammel, do very well as she received Grand Champion in fitting and showing of goats - in her first year of competition - at the recently completed Junior Livestock Show at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Rasmussen said their effort to grow interest in the Rangers is to focus on youth who don't do sports or traditional activities.

"We've shown them there is a lot more out there they can do," Rasmussen said. "We have sewing and cooking. Our cooking group is growing quite a bit."

Club members did new decorations for the recently completed Junior Livestock Show. This way "They could do the art part of it if they did not want to raise an animal," Rasmussen said.

The old home economics classes of a bygone era that were once taught in high school, get a rebirth of sorts in 4H.

"Cooking and teaching them the basic table settings, how to measure stuff and have fun," Rasmussen said are just scratching the surface of activities.

They do a lot of volunteer work, too. The club's goal is to attempt to do one or two major involvements per year, Rasmussen said. That is a requirement to be part of the Rangers.

One recent effort involved visiting the Veterans Administration Hospital in northwest Spokane.

"They've gone out where they just brought cookies and sat down with all the vets and the kids just talked to them," Rasmussen said. "Oh man, they (the vets) loved it."

Another outing involved laying wreaths at the Washington Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake.

The Rangers also work closely with the Jensen Youth Ranch. "We're involved with them, Carl and Craig and I work well together," Rasmussen said.

The club helps with clean up in return for the ranch housing their animals. "The kids get to raise their animals out there free," Rasmussen said. This is especially important for the 4Hers who live in town, yet still want to experience what farm life might look like.

"We try to find new things to do every year," Rasmussen said, which this year will include operating a food truck at Medical Lake's Founders Day celebration. Proceeds will benefit the Jensen Youth Ranch.

Paul Delaney can be reached at

McKenzi Hammel and Carson Buenzli of the West Plains Rangers 4-H club show off their goats at competition.


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