For the first time in 20 years, home-school students and youths who attend Livingston Parish schools that don’t offer a 4-H Club can join one of the nation’s largest youth organizations.

The LSU Agricultural Center in Livingston Parish has started the Members-at-Large 4-H organization, which is open to nontraditional students. The decision to start the group came after Livingston Parish 4-H agent Jessie Hoover saw a need among nontraditional students interested in joining the group.

Hoover said some parishes, including Tangipahoa Parish, have similar organizations that help keep home-schooled children and students who attend schools without 4-H clubs abreast of the latest agriculture and home economics trends.

“The club will meet once a month, and we’ll do educational things,” Hoover said, adding that Members-at-Large students will be taught how to conduct science experiments, engage in shooting sports, and raise and show chickens — among other livestock.

In addition, students will learn table etiquette, create a wetlands project where they will grow a cypress tree, and learn leadership skills and how to speak in front of a group, Hoover said. Other lessons will include sewing and cooking.

To gather ideas on how to conduct the new meetings, Livingston Parish 4-H agents traveled to 43 Livingston Parish schools and attended their 4-H meetings, Hoover said.

“4-H in Livingston Parish is a part of a local, state, national and international youth program,” according to the organization’s website,

“Our parish has 40 organized clubs. Any student enrolled in a Livingston Parish school, who is in fourth grade through the 12th grade, is eligible to enroll in the program. The clubs meet once a month with 4-H agents Jessie Hoover and Christy Sorenson of the LSU AgCenter Extension Office,” the site says.

The new Members-at-Large program is also open to youths in fourth grade through high school.

“4-H teaches them a lot about responsibility and leadership skills,” said Hoover, who was once a member of 4-H.

“I learned a lot about how to deal with people, and the skills I needed to know to get through life,” she said.

“They learn how to talk to people on the phone because all kids do today is text,” Hoover said.

In addition, new members will learn record-keeping skills, and will be eligible to participate in all state and national competitions — from cooking to livestock showing, Hoover said.

“We’re hoping for maybe 20 kids,” Hoover said, although the organization will accept any interested student.

The meetings will be held at the Livingston Parish LSU AgCenter Office, 29849 S. Magnolia St., Livingston.

Registration isn’t required, Hoover said. Interested students should attend the first meeting on Sept. 16 so they can sign up to become members.

For information, call the LSU Ag Center’s Livingston Parish office from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (225) 686-3020.