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Local 4-H club wins state award for park project in Brewster

Members of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club pose for photo on the new playground equipment in the Brewster City Park last summer. Submitted photo 1 / 2
Parker Murphy (front, from left), Skylar Fischer and Eli Robinson — all members of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club — pose with their plaque and Nobles County Commissioners Gene Metz (back, from left), Donald Linssen, Bob Demuth Jr. and Marv Zylstra, following an awards luncheon Thursday noon at the Association of Minnesota Counties annual conference in St. Paul. Submitted photo 2 / 2

BREWSTER — Members of the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club in Nobles County accepted the 2016 4-H Community Youth Leadership Award during a noon luncheon Thursday.

The state honor, presented by the Association of Minnesota Counties during its annual legislative conference, is in recognition of the club’s efforts to replace playground equipment in the Brewster City Park.

Indian Lake Progressives (ILP) members Eli Robinson, Parker Murphy and Skylar Fisher accepted the award, which include a plaque and $250 cash prize, on behalf of the club. The trio presented a brief Powerpoint on their project during the luncheon, which was attended by more than 250 people.

It was in 2013 that the local 4-H club began a fundraising campaign to replace aging equipment in the Brewster City Park.

“The park equipment was really old and not safe,” said ILP member DJ Lambert.

“I go to the school and we have recess out there every day,” added Murphy. “You could see it was unsafe.”

The wooden activity center was rotting and was in such bad shape that when the city took it down, some of the beams were simply pulled apart by hand.

The club’s members planned a 5K during Brewster Fun Days to raise money, and their first year netted more than $1,700. In Year 2, they increased registrations for the 5K and also secured a $5,000 matching grant from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation (WRHCF). With contributions, sponsorships and donations, they generated more than $10,000 in net income.

Last year, while registrations were down slightly in 5K participation, club members secured more money in sponsorships and donations, including $5,500 from the Brewster Community Club, $1,500 from the Worthington Optimist Club and $15,000 in matching funds from the WRHCF. Combined, they netted more than $30,000 — and recorded a three-year total of nearly $42,000.

“It was all about partnerships — to get the matching funds,” said ILP co-leader Kim Lambert of the amount of money the club was able to raise.

“Thanks to all the supporters who helped,” added 4-H’er Ethan Haberman. He said all of the members were expected to help. Some directed runners and walks along the route, some helped serve fruit (donated by Hy-Vee) and water (donated by Culligan) at the end of the race and they all cheered on the participants.

The funds raised by club members were presented to the city of Brewster, and covered slightly more than half of the cost of a large jungle gym for the park. The colorful equipment includes a variety of features and several slides. The city had it installed just before Brewster Fun Days last year so children could enjoy the new equipment.

“It’s really nice,” said Murphy. “It’s bigger than the other (jungle gym). A lot more kids play on it now, and it’s a lot more fun and safe.”

After the new jungle gym was installed, the city purchased materials, including recycled tires, to place underneath the equipment so kids had a softer landing. Also, several community residents volunteered to sandblast and repaint the older equipment in the park to spruce them up until they can one day be replaced.

A committee comprised of Brewster City Administrator Jim Naumann, a Brewster City Council member, two teachers from Brewster Elementary school and two mothers of ILP 4-H members, who also have daycares in Brewster, will decide what additional equipment to purchase.

Meanwhile, the ILP 4-H’ers will continue to fundraise to see the rest of the project through.

“We know it’s quite a bit, so we’re going to keep going for a while,” said Murphy, adding that the club hopes to raise enough money to add a zip-line and replace the existing merry-go-round and swings.

In their letter supporting the 4-H club for the award, Brewster Mayor Randy Schmitz and Naumann shared their appreciation for the club.

“Without their effort in taking the lead in supporting the park improvement, it would not have happened,” they wrote.

Nobles County commissioners also wrote a letter of support to AMC, saying, “Nobles County commends the Indian Lake Progressives 4-H Club’s community service work making a difference in their community…”

At their 4-H meeting last Sunday, the club’s members voted to give the $250 cash prize that came with the state award to a 4-year-old Brewster boy recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Aiden Remme’s grandparents, Tom and Darcie Busch of rural Brewster, had supported the club’s fundraiser by donating sweet corn for 4-H’ers to sell for three days last summer. The generosity of the Busches, dealers of Pioneer Seed, helped the club raise more than $600, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by the WRHCF.

ILP was one of two 4-H clubs to receive a 4-H Community Youth Leadership Award Thursday. The other club was from Kittson County, in far northwest Minnesota.

“They made bags for cancer patients,” said Kim Lambert, who chauffeured the 4-H members to Thursday’s event. At the end of the recognition program, the individual from Kittson County donated the one cancer bag she brought with her to the Nobles County group with a request that it be given to Aiden.

Many of the commissioners met with the youths following the luncheon, and one gave them a $20 bill, which will be added to the donation the club makes to the Remmes.

“It was incredible the number of people that came up and shook their hand,” said Lambert. “I was just blown away.

“I’m just very proud of everyone in the club. I had no idea this would turn into such a big deal,” she added.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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