Friday, July 18, 2014

“I’m More Alike Than Different,” Says 4-H Member

Contact: David Burton, civic communication specialist
County Program Director - Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Jack Neidigh is member of the Sac River Stablemates 4-H Club in Greene County. He is also a 9-year old with both Down’s syndrome and autism.

Jack and his mother Lynn made a presentation to the Southwest Region Extension Council on June 24 inside the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center, Springfield, Mo.

His presentation, “I am More Alike Than Different,” highlighted the difference in communication for Jack, who uses a tablet computer to speak.

The video of his presentation is available on YouTube at or can be accessed on the regional MU Extension channel at


Jack’s mother Lynn was in 4-H as a child growing up in Dallas County. But as a parent she says 4-H is important to her son and her entire family. One of those reasons is that 4-H helps to build a community for her children.

“With 4-H participation we are building an inclusive community and that is difficult to find when you are raising a child with a disability. Our society likes to do special things for them, and it’s my vision that he learn and live with all of us as my typical daughter does. And 4-H allows us to do that because there are the same kids in our 4-H group as the kids he goes to school with,” said Lynn.

Members of the Sac River Stablemates 4-H Club learn more about Jack and become more comfortable with his mannerisms. Lynn says they also learn how to support him and so that they can support him when he is in the community.

The second important thing for Jack is learning, and no organization does that better than 4-H according to Lynn.

“I have a master’s in education and I really believe 4-H. First of all, the experiential learning and learning by doing meets the needs of all children. It is not just reading, it is not just learning by listening but it’s learning by doing,” said Lynn. “4-H allows anyone to enter a project no matter their skills. It allows for self-directed learning and growing, and that is important.”

Lynn says the fact that 4-H curriculum doesn’t mandate an age for when a member learns something makes 4-H learning different than the typical education system.

“It’s self-directed and that’s what makes it fun. These factors are really important to us and it’s important to Jack because it really meets his learning style and needs. He can also learn at his own pace which really works for us because as you listen to Jack it takes him longer, and it takes a lot more practice than typical children,” said Lynn.

Overall, 4-H is exactly what the Neidigh family needs according to Lynn.

“So 4-H is important to Jack and to our family for those reasons. I encourage you all to continue to support it monetarily as well as with your own talents, whatever you have to give,” said Lynn.


Missouri 4-H is University of Missouri Extension's youth development program. The 4-H program helps to create opportunities for young people to be valued, contributing members of their community. To learn more about 4-H -- the world’s largest youth-serving organization -- and how to get involved locally go online to

It is possible to support 4-H in Greene County by becoming a member of the “Friends of Greene County Extension.” Information is available online at

Residents of southwest Missouri can contact any of these 4-H youth development specialists for  information: Karla Deaver in Lawrence County at (417) 466-3102; Monica Spittler in Taney County, (417) 546-5531; Bob McNary in Jasper County at (417) 358-2158; Jeremy Elliott-Engel in Newton County at (417) 455-9500 or Velynda Cameron in Polk County at (417) 326-4916.


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