Upcoming 5K Started by a Teen Raises Awareness for Youth Program

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Races are pretty popular this time of year, but most are put on by adults or big groups. A teenager started the Clover Dash 5K.

Rebecca Osthus, 17, said, "I go to Roosevelt High School, and I'm involved in the county council and state council, and I'm also president of my 4-H club."

Last year, Osthus asked the Polk County Extension County Youth Coordinator if she could start a 5K.

Marci Vinsand said, "Ok, that's a lofty goal, but we can make it happen."

Osthus also got her parents to help, and 230 people participated in the first Polk County Clover Dash. It is in memory of a person who was passionate about 4-H.

"Joy Niklasen was a County Youth Coordinator and she passed away in a car accident in September 2014," said Osthus.

The race raises money for the 4-H youth program. Vinsand said, "After the first one, we were able to send youth to a 4-H conference at Iowa State University. And, then we also sponsored a youth to go to our Taste of Camp, and then also a college scholarship."

The second annual Clover Dash 5K takes place during the Polk County Fair. It will end at the 4-H Exhibits Building. People we get to go inside and see what 4-H is all about.

Osthus said, "That was one of my goals with the 5K, is to kind of spread the word about 4-H and the Polk County Fair, let people know it's not all about cows and pigs because there's a lot of other opportunities and leadership and communication things that people don't really associate with 4-H."

This year, Osthus made a gluten free cookbook as a 4-H project. That sparked her desire to become a dietitian. The Des Moines resident didn't grow up on a farm but has benefited from 4-H.

"I remember when I was a 4th grader and doing my presentation, and I was really shy and timid, and now seeing the growth throughout the years has opened my eyes to all the opportunities that are possible," said Osthus.

The Polk County Fair starts Wednesday, July 20. The Clover Dash 5K is Saturday, July 23 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It starts at 8:30 a.m.

You can register online or e-mail Rebecca at cloverdash5K@gmail.com. More information is also available on the Polk County Extension's website.