“My oldest daughter Madeleine loves animals and science as do many of her seventh grade classmates,” Ryan explained. “These children are interested in what they can do to make the world a better place. They wanted to physically make things and do things. Not just read about it.”Stolo, who was named the Science Teacher of the Year, Junior Division (grades 6-8) at the 2008 California State Science Fair, has always been a fan of hands-on learning.“I agreed to be advisor for our 4-H Club, because I love to share the love I have for art, farming, and raising healthy, happy animals,” she said. “My special loves came from my own hands on learning. When I was a little kid my family had to depend on what we raised from chickens to veggies. I even learned to make my own toys.”Co-principal Marilyn Kadzielski supported the idea for the club since it aligned with so many of the Schoolwide Learning Expectations (SLEs).“These activities,” she noted, “fit perfectly into our SLEs to ‘Love Self’ through nurturing one's own gifts and growing in confidence and maturity, and to ‘Love Neighbors’ through showing respect for life and the environment, effectively leading and making everyone count, and serving to make a difference in the world. “4-H activities also fall under the ‘Love Learning’ SLE in the areas of speaking with clarity, managing time and resources effectively, working to reach his or her full potential, and thinking critically, creatively to solve problems. Kids are learning about themselves while they serve others.”Currently the club includes 34 children from grades 5-8, but there are plans for a junior division involving Kindergarten through fourth grade next year. Already, said Kadzielski, “our kids have made beeswax candles, vegetable seedlings in eco-friendly bio-degradable containers, and headbands from recyclable materials. They also have a worm farm which fits perfectly with our school garden of vegetables and flowers. The worm farm uses compost and generates worm tea and casings which help the plants in our garden thrive.”Recently club members hosted a booth at the school’s spring festival where they raised money from sales of those items as well as small wooden planters they built from non-treated cedar. “We are very excited as the children want to use that money to visit a farm and go horseback riding,” said Ryan.Stolo hopes the 4-H members “will take pride in what they hand-craft and grow and learn the true meaning of being responsible citizens caring for all of God's creation.”Admittedly, high interest alone was not enough to get the club off the ground. It took a year for the parent advisors to become trained and fingerprinted through the 4-H system. They were also fingerprinted for the archdiocese and took the Virtus awareness class required for adults who work with children. And they are more than happy to help other schools start their own 4-H Clubs. As Ryan says, “Watching the children's happiness as they are able to make something out of nothing is incredible to us. We are showing them that you don't need much to create something beautiful. These are all gifts from God that are available to everyone.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0617/sf4h/{/gallery}