National 4-H Week and Reflections
Happy National 4-H Week! Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters that make 4-H in our area counties and the State a success; we wouldn’t have the 4-H program without numerous volunteers such as many of you reading this!
A few weeks ago, I was attempting to explain not only Extension but 4-H to a group of people who didn’t understand either. A survey found that nearly 96% of people recognize the name 4-H but only 35% recognize Extension. That’s why at our County fair, I put up the large red flags to help people make the connection between Extension and 4-H. I think many in our county are familiar that 4-H has to do something with the fair, but it’s so much more than that! Essentially 4-H is a youth development program coordinated by land grant universities such as UNL through the Cooperative Extension System. The National 4-H site at http://4h.org states that “4-H fosters an innovative, “learn by doing” approach with proven results.” A study conducted by Tufts University found that youth involved with 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school, are nearly two times more likely to go to college, 41% less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and 25% more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.
The 4-H pledge explains what the 4 H’s stand for including pledging our:
*Heads to clearer thinking
*Hearts to greater loyalty
*Hands to larger service
*Health to better living….for our clubs, communities, country, and world.
I remember reciting this pledge at every monthly meeting at a 4-Her. I’m so thankful for the numerous volunteers-particularly the amount of time our club leader invested into the youth in our club-teaching us to sew and the importance of straight seems, cook the 4-H way, model sewn garments, importance of volunteering and community service, and teaching us parliamentary procedure by empowering us as youth to run and conduct meetings. I’m thankful for volunteers who spent each week during the summer teaching me about weeds, trees, and horticulture ID….skills I use nearly every day of my Extension career and as a homeowner. While we often worked on them last minute and weren’t thrilled about doing them, I’m thankful my mom required us to do 4-H presentations each year to develop public speaking skills. I’m thankful my grandma taught me how to make homemade bread and rolls and that so many volunteers worked with me on my 4-H Jr. Leader projects to help me develop leadership skills. I’m also thankful for the Extension staff at the office while I was growing up-they were always so friendly and helpful and modeled the way for me in my career today.
Thinking about my 4-H experiences reminds me that you are encouraged by the Nebraska 4-H Foundation to share your 4-H story! Some have asked me what this means. Essentially, any of us who have went through the 4-H program or volunteered with the 4-H program has a story to tell about how 4-H has benefited us or how we’ve seen the program benefit others. It may be a funny story or a serious one. The best part is that it’s YOUR story and the 4-H Foundation wants to hear them to help with promoting 4-H! The deadline is November 30th and you can find more information at: http://www.ne4hfoundation.org. Thanks again to everyone involved with helping or supporting the 4-H program and to the 1 in every 3 Nebraska youth currently involved with the 4-H program!