Welcome to Watonwan County
Watonwan County partners with Extension to deliver practical education and research you can use at home, at work and in your community.
4-H helps youth develop leadership skills, build self confidence, develop public speaking skills, and other healthy life skills all while having fun!
You name it, you can do it! And better yet, you can get a lot of help from adult volunteers and youth leaders. There are mentors who can teach you and help you learn. You can join a 4-H club through 12th grade where you can do all kinds of fun, learning activities.
Watonwan County 4-H year runs from October 1 to the following year September 30. Each October is a new year for enrollment. Every 4-H family will receive a Watonwan County 4-H Newsletter with important information like meeting dates, upcoming activities, and opportunities for members and volunteers.
There are several ways to join or re-enroll in 4-H.
First time enrollment
If you're enrolling for the first time you can enroll online through 4HOnline or complete a paper registration form to be turned into our local extension office.
Re-enroll in 4-H
Remember when re-enrolling to update any information that has changed since the prior year.
- Re-enroll online
- Log into your account through 4HOnline using your email and password and click on the member to enroll for the new year.
- Members enrolling as Independent must notify the office of your mentor name.
- Paper re-enrollment
- Print, complete and return the enrollment form to our office by mail or fax (507-375-1275)
Watonwan County has several different clubs as well as project clubs. Project clubs were created to help youth learn and focus on that certain project. For instance we have Horse, Engineering Design, Dairy, Poultry, Swine, and Shooting Sports that members can also be a member of. You can join a Community club and also be a part of Cloverbuds, Tweens, Youth Leaders and any project clubs! When you join more than one club you get more fun. Another fun feature with 4-H is all the Summer activities we offer from camping, art, science, food and so much more!
Another feature 4-H offers is the ability to showcase your talents at the County fair and State Fair (if eligible). Each year you'll have the opportunity to show the community what you've learned and your talents. You can show anything from crafts to livestock and even science! There is something for everyone to be a part of!
Community/Family Clubs (Grades K-12)
The best part of a 4-H community club is the time spent as a family having fun while learning together. You may choose one Community Club and also be a part of Youth Leaders, Tweens, and Cloverbuds! You will learn new skills by working on projects together as a family; attend fun activities together like tours, bowling, holiday parties; or work and learn the importance of community service.
- Fieldon Rustlers - Madelia Area (Club Leader-Jenny Anderson; email@example.com or 507-327-3903)
- Golden Gleaners - St. James Area (Club Leader-Susan Craig; firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-327-7699)
- Nelson Wide Awake - Godahl/Hanska Area (Club Leaders-Kari Miest; email@example.com or 507-375-3085 & Cali Schmidt; firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-439-6399)
- Nifty Thrifty - South Branch Area (Club Leaders-Kayla McGuire; email@example.com or 507-375-3650 & Amy Gieseke; firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-317-7356)
- Riverdale Rockets - Madelia Area (Club Leader-Lori Feder-Pietsch email@example.com or 507-317-4634)
- Rosendale Skippers - Madelia/St. James Area (Club Leaders-Joleen Braaten; firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-375-5796 & Michelle Knudson; email@example.com or 507-304-3280)
- Speedway Builders - Butterfield Area (Club Leaders-Sheila Pierson; firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Leaders/Ambassadors Club (Grades 7-12)
This group works on community service projects, team building, healthy lifestyle choices, building relationships, fun, and creativity.
- Learn skills in dozens of subject areas
- Share your skills
- Go on exciting camps, retreats and adventures
- Mentor 4-H Cloverbuds and 4-H Tweens
Club Leaders-Bill & Kim Crowley
Tweens Club (Grades 3-6)
This group works on community service projects, exploring project areas, educational activities, team work, and building self-esteem. The group decides if they want to meet monthly or bi-monthly. Call the Extension office for meeting dates.
- The kids make new friends
- Brainstorm ideas
- Work as a team
- Learn how to help the community and
- Go on social events.
Club Leader-Sarah Reckard
Cloverbuds (Grades K-2)
Cloverbuds is a fun, hands-on, educational program specially designed just for kids in Grades Kindergarten to 2nd grade.
County Cloverbuds meet monthly on the 1st Saturday morning from 10 a.m. - noon at the Watonwan County Extension Office from October to May. Your child is welcome to attend all or just one meeting.
- Explore monthly topics
- Make crafts
- Learn about and have healthy snacks
- Play games
Club Leader-Sarah Reckard
4-H in Minnesota
4-H Youth Development is a hands-on learning program for Minnesota youth. We offer online, small group and independent learning experiences for youth of all ages. In 4-H, youth choose the topic they find interesting and caring adults support their learning and leadership. From agronomy to space exploration and creative arts to outdoor adventures, 4-H has just the right learning experience for young people.
There are many ways to participate in 4-H!
Check out the local Watonwan county member site that includes the following sign-ups and other important information:
4-H fair registration dates are June 1-15. Registrations after this date are not eligible for higher than a blue ribbon.
To be eligible to participate in the State Fair, youth must have an active LQA&E or YQCA certification prior to the county fair. If you require certification/recertification, you will receive a letter in the mail. If you have questions about your certification status, please contact the office.
Livestock Quality Assurance Policy (full policy)
Find the latest on Extension agricultural research and news you can use on your farm from local experts.
Statewide news and blogs
- Agricultural Business Management News - Business and financial resources for farmers.
- Beef News - Beef industry featured events, farm safety and animal health.
- Dairy News - Dairy industry featured events, farm safety and animal health.
- Fruit and Vegetable News - Local production and marketing of fruit and vegetable crops in Minnesota.
- Minnesota Crop News - Emerging issues affecting Minnesota row crops and forages.
Private pesticide applicator tests are available for 2021. You may choose to attend a virtual class, complete your test online, or complete the test manually. To complete your test manually please see the options below.
Private pesticide applicator tests and test books are available from our office Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Tests are free
- Test books (19th Edition) are $10, checks payable to UMN Extension. If you have a test book please verify it is the 19th Edition.
Outside Office Hours
If you're unable to come to the office during business hours we do have a dropbox available outside our door facing 1st Ave (across from Bolin Lumber). The dropbox is black with a 4-H clover on the front.
- Call 507-375-1275 or email email@example.com
- Leave your first and last name
- Mailing address
- What is needed (test only, book only or test and book)
- Date and approximate time you'd like to pick up your item(s) from the drop box
- On the date of pick-up, staff will leave your item(s) in the drop box
- If you purchased a test book leave your check (payable to UMN Extension) in an envelope in the mailbox
- A receipt will be included and found inside the cover of your test book
Watonwan County Extension
Local agriculture related questions can be directed to our local extension office.
Sarah Reckard, Extension educator
firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-375-1275
Michelle Knudson, County support staff
email@example.com or 507-375-1275
Minnesota agriculture resources
Questions outside our local area may be directed to the Farm information line.
Watonwan County is searching for volunteers willing to become University of Minnesota Master Gardeners to assist our community in questions and topics. Our Extension program will assist in program fees if needed.
Please consider becoming a Master Gardener for Watonwan County.
Health and nutrition
Extension offers a variety of educational programs about nutrition and health in Watonwan County. These programs are open to families and individuals of all ages who are eligible for benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or who meet Extension’s program income guidelines.
Programs are offered in community settings such as food shelves, schools, community centers and public housing sites. The programs are free to all individuals and families who meet income guidelines, and may be offered in multiple languages, depending on the audience needs and availability of educators.
Beth Labenz is Watonwan County's SNAP-Ed Educator working closely with the community, schools, and members to provide support and classes to a healthier living.
Watonwan County is committed to our community and helping in any way possible to fight hunger. Check back often as the food distribution dates will be updated as new information is available.
To apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formally known as Food Stamps or Food Assistance), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Watonwan County Human Services
715 2nd Ave S,
St. James, MN 56081
507-375-3294 (call prior to arrival)
If unable to access food
Public Health Essential Hotline
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Watonwan County Food Shelf
108 8th St S, St. James, MN 56081
- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays
- 2nd and 4th Friday 4:30-7 p.m.
Madelia Community Food Shelf
5 West Main St, Madelia, MN 56081
(alley behind Anytime Fitness)
- 4th Wednesday of the month
- 3:30-6 p.m.
- No referral needed at this time
- Senior dining, Lutheran Social Services.
- 60+ with donations accepted.
- EBT is accepted.
- No group dining until further notice.
- Frozen meals can be delivered upon request.
Meals on Wheels
- Hot meals delivered by volunteers.
- Call 507-375-5995 for more information in your area.
Madelia Community Hospital and Clinic
121 Drew Ave SE, Madelia, MN 56062
* Special dietary meals available.
- Food packs for the weekend for children Kindergarten to 6th grade.
- School pantry available for 6-12th graders.
- Contact your school district to be enrolled.
Watonwan County Food Distribution
Watonwan County food shelf is offering a FREE drive thru food distribution open to all households in need. Each household will receive fresh produce, mixed dairy,
- Friday, February 19
- 4 - 6 pm
- Memorial Park South Shelter - 925 Memorial Dr., St. James, MN
Extension's Center for Community Vitality engages Minnesotans to strengthen the social, civic, economic and technological capacity of their communities. We help create vibrant communities and enhance skills and knowledge in economics, leadership and civic engagement, and tourism.
Check our community research page for reports on county and community-focused topics relating to local economics, retaining businesses, growing retail markets, developing tourism, and more.
Local programs can be offered in collaboration with local community organizations and government agencies. Current programs include:
Contact an educator in your area for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.
Minnesota is a great place to explore, understand and conserve the natural landscape. Extension education, volunteer and community science programs encourage people to become stewards of Minnesota’s public and private lands.
Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect Greater Minnesota communities and University of Minnesota knowledge and resources to support local sustainability projects. Working in partnership, RSDP supports community-driven projects in four focus areas: agriculture and food systems, clean energy, natural resources and resilient communities. Projects are supported by boards made up of local community members and University faculty and staff. Learn more about RSDP’s recent work in Watonwan County and neighboring communities, and how to submit a project idea.
Join us at an event in your community.
Find opportunities to learn about the natural environment, how to care for your forest lands, and how you and your family can get out and explore nature around the state and in your own backyard.
Find information on community-focused news.
Find out how to take care of your trees and enjoy Minnesota's beautiful woodlands.
From preserving our wetlands to combating invasive species, read about protecting and enjoying nature.
Learn more about community-driven sustainability projects happening across Minnesota.
Watonwan County Extension
Extension brings Minnesotans together to build a better future through University science-based knowledge, expertise and training. Learn more about Extension by visiting our about page and by browsing this website.