The Country Critters will be hopping away into the sunset after 22 years. The 4-H rabbit club is dissolving and will celebrate its legacy with current and former members at a potluck banquet at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at CASEE, 11104 N.E. 149th St., Brush Prairie. The club has about 16 members and claims to be one of the longest existing rabbit clubs in Clark County.
Nicole Pereira has been project leader of Country Critters since 2012. She decided to step down as her oldest daughter aged out of the 4-H club.
“No one else wanted to take over,” she said.
The main goal of the Country Critters it to teach its members about caring for and raising rabbits.
“A lot of people don’t realize, they’re more fragile than a chicken,” she said.
The club would meet at CASEE and the 78th Street Heritage Farm. When new members would join to learn more about pet rabbits, the parents would share a look, said Pereira.
“We know they’re going to end up with more,” she added. “It’s hard not to like bunnies after all. And there are around 40 breeds of rabbit to love.”
“Not a lot of people know about 4-H, they think of girl and boy scouts, and picture it as something in the past,” said Pereira, “but (4-H) is so much more now, not just about farm animals.”
Other 4-H clubs can be built around photography, robotics or bicycles.
Club members can join the American Rabbit Breeders Association and show their bunny breeds. Children in the third grade can start showing their rabbits at fairs and shows. Through the club, they learn about showmanship and presentation skills. Watching a child become more confident through 4-H was one of the biggest benefits, said Pereira.
“The kids create friendships that last a long time, they learn about becoming a good citizen, becoming a good leader,” she said.
The Country Critters focused on community outreach under Pereira’s leadership, visiting local nursing homes and churches and highlighting all things bunny at 4-H outreach events. In 2014, the rabbit club won Washington State Best Community Pride Club Award.
The club also coordinated a food drive for the Clark County Food Bank. In 2013, it donated 1,400 pounds of food — along with 185 pounds of rabbit meat — and raised more than $5,000 dollars through a partnership with Burgerville
“Once a year, we would breed meat rabbits for the food bank,” said Pereira, as part of the club’s Bunnies Battling Hunger Program.
This year, they donated about 80 pounds.
“It’s a pretty healthy meat,” she said.
Most of all, Pereira said she’ll miss teaching the club members and seeing them bloom.
“And seeing the created friendships, among both the parents and the kids,” she said.
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