A Lifetime of 4-H Archery Programs through UConn 4-H

Walter and Nancy Squier have shared their love of archery and community service with thousands of Connecticut youth through UConn 4-H

Man helps a young boy learn archery

Walter Squier helps a boy in the archery range. (Contributed photo)

A family with twin boys stepped off the shuttle bus at an outdoor youth recreation event. They were there to participate in an archery workshop. The father was carrying one of the boys and placed him into his wheelchair after exiting the bus. Some of the event volunteers were unsure about how to include the young boy. Walter Squier, a UConn 4-H alum and volunteer, was helping at the event. He stepped up and said, “It’s not what you can do, it’s what you think you can do.” That day, Walter took the boy to the range and taught him to handle and use the archery tackle.

“Someone did it for us, so we do it for other kids,” says Nancy Deming Squier, his wife. They live the “hands to larger service” part of the 4-H pledge every day. UConn 4-H is a program supporting youth education coordinated by UConn Extension.

The Squiers both grew up in 4-H families. Walter and Nancy co-lead the 4-H Archers Unlimited Club, which recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary, and they’ve spent over 30 years volunteering for UConn 4-H in a multitude of capacities, from leading other types of clubs to advisory committees and numerous roles at the annual 4-H fair.

Over 80 youth have participated in Archers Unlimited to date, many with yearslong enrollment, and thousands of others have benefited from demonstrations and extra volunteering that Walter and Nancy provide.

Walter participated in archery as a youth and stayed involved after he and Nancy got married. He is certified with National 4-H and USA Archery, was an assistant scout master, and taught at Camp Mattatuck in Plymouth.

Walter and Nancy learned about the National 4-H Archery Program, and went to Vermont to learn more. Later they went through an approval process to have the program and curriculum added in Connecticut.

The archery curriculum is offered through National 4-H and helps youth learn decision-making, teamwork, and problem solving, while also developing their self-confidence and leadership skills.

All youth members complete safety training before they can participate in the program. There are 110 archery terms to learn, plus how to set up and run a range. Walter is certified in the U.S. Archery Whistle Commands, and all the youth learn what those commands mean.

“We work really hard to keep it safe,” Nancy says. “Safety is our priority.”

The club meets twice per month at the Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam. While Walter focuses on instruction, Nancy is behind the scenes with the organizational duties, and is constantly cooking and feeding everyone.

During the winter months, Walter teaches the youth how to make their own bow strings and enjoy activities together. Club members participate in community service too. Examples include making 66 cards each holiday for residents at Portland Care and Rehab and participating in Wreaths Across America in East Hampton.

Adults and a child with a gift basket
Nancy and Walter Squier with a 4-H participant making gift baskets as part of community service efforts. (Contributed photo)

“Nancy and Walter have dedicated their adult lives to making the best better through the UConn Middlesex County 4-H Program,” says Emily Alger, UConn 4-H program coordinator for Middlesex County.

The annual 4-H Fair is the high-point of the year for many youths and a very busy weekend for Nancy and Walter. Nancy and her sisters have served as department superintendents for various exhibit areas over the years, and Nancy runs a full kitchen at the Middlesex-New Haven 4-H (and the Portland Fair). Walter works in the food booth at the 4-H Fair from six to nine in the morning, and then spends the rest of the day on the archery range, teaching youth.

“There’s always a line of youth waiting patiently for a turn once the range opens, and the line lasts all day, as every year more youth want to participate,” says Nancy.

Jacob Kaeser of Eastford is one of the 4-H Archers Unlimited alums. Having known the Squiers for over 20 years, he says their influence has gone farther than most might realize.

“Their influence has touched thousands in the shooting sports community. In lieu of having children of their own, they have dedicated their lives to passing on their shared knowledge and love for shooting sports to future generations. As would most of their club alumni, I am proud to be fondly known as one of their ‘adopted’ children and would not be the man I am today without them.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit the UConn 4-H website.

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