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Idaho 4-H Brings the World Closer

Claudine Zender sitting on a bench in Germany

One lesson, among many that 4-H has taught Claudine Zender is that that there are no boundaries to what 4-H can do.

Now that Zender, Idaho 4-H international programs coordinator, has done the hard part -- traveled to Germany and helped create a 4-H teen group at the Ansbach U.S. Army Garrison -- all she is asking for is people to donate their old laptops to support the group.

“4-H has a larger impact than most people realize,” says Zender. “We have a great military connection, but also a worldwide presence that even impacts our students in Idaho.”

On a recent trip overseas to promote 4-H and visit members in several countries, Zender was invited by Dale Maxwell, a lifetime Idaho 4-H member, to speak with interested youth at the Ansbach Army Garrison in Germany.

Maxwell, an annual presenter for the past 14 years at the Idaho 4-H Teen Conference, is looking to share his passion with a new generation and give them an organization to belong to that will build leadership skills. Working with youths at the base teen center, he saw a need for 4-H; it’s an organization that he credits with “saving” him.

“He’s a big supporter of 4-H, both in Idaho and internationally,” says Zender. “He wants to provide leadership opportunities and bring the kids to us, nationally and at the Idaho Teen Conference.”

His ties to 4-H aren’t the only connection for Maxwell to the University. His wife, Idaho alumna Branden (Bourn) Maxwell ‘04, joined the Army as a veterinarian and works at Ansbach caring for Army and Army family animals and providing food safety inspections for military suppliers.

The same that week Zender spoke to four groups on post, Ansbach formed a 4-H club. Interest is high for a robotics club, and while the post has the robotics kits, they need non-military laptop computers to run the robotics software.

Zender says the laptops can be basic; they just need to be able to run Windows XP. Ideally, Zender is hoping to collect a handful of laptops for the students, though even one would be a boon. The laptops need to be donated by individuals, as University equipment, even if unused, must be sent to surplus.

“Dale has given so much to Idaho 4-H; now it’s time to give a little back to him,” says Zender. “4-H places a big emphasis on the family support system.”

To contact Zender for more information about donating laptops, email czender@uidaho.edu or call 885-7700.