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Our search for different activities for our children led us to 4-H. We discovered that 4-H is much more than farming and raising animals. 4-H is robotics, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), expressive arts, citizenship, leadership and more. Here are seventeen reasons why 4-H could be right for your child.
Our children are designing robots, showing dogs, learning crafts, developing leadership skills, lobbying the state legislature, managing events and serving people in need. 4-H members in the U.S. are collecting data on butterflies, as well as exploring hydroponic gardening, renewable energy sources, bioengineering and a partnership between kids and professional scientists.
Kids can explore anything that interests them. Support, connections and mentoring are available through 4-H.
4-H is part of the U.S. Government Cooperative Extension Service. You can contact your state university, your county cooperative extension office or www.4-h.org for local club information. You can even start your own club, or your child can be an individual member.
Programs include clubs, after-school activities, camps, fairs, events and conventions. Activities can be local, county, state, regional or national.
There is no uniform or equipment to purchase to get started.
You may have more time available to devote to 4-H at certain times of the month or year, and that is okay. There is no set number of hours required to participate.
Peer pressure to be part of certain groups is not a part of 4-H. It is okay to be an individual without being singled out.
4-H programs are tailored to young people of various ages; some states offer clubs for children younger than 8.
Children are connected to other youth and adults who have knowledge in areas that your child is interested in.
Involvement encourages kids to learn and practice leadership skills that become life skills. There is an annual, week-long national leadership summit.
Kids design their own projects and set goals for what they want to learn. This empowerment process teaches life skills and fosters ambition. The projects can be displayed at regional 4-H fairs, giving children a sense of pride and accomplishment.
A great way to create lasting friendships is through activities that can be enjoyed together. There is always something to do or talk about.
4-H members feel like they are making a difference — in their clubs, their community and their country. 4-H activities open minds to the larger universe. 4-H youth have opportunities to speak to their state legislators about local and global issues that matter both now and in the future.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a major focus for 4-H, preparing youth for the future through projects and programs.
Livestock and other 4-H animals can be leased for $1 and some help with care.
The 4-H National Youth Conference Center is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Some of the annual events are the Geospatial Technologies Summit, the Agri-Science Summit, the Summit on Robotics, the Healthy Living Summit, 4-H National Conference, and Citizenship Washington.
Training and support is provided and opportunities are matched with your level of time commitment. Adults can be involved with clubs, youth education, events, committees and leadership.
According to the 4-H website, 4-H youth are tackling our “top issues, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy, to childhood obesity and food safety.” STEM opportunities include agriculture, animal science, rocketry, robotics, environmental protection and computer science, “to improve the nation’s ability to compete in key scientific fields and take on the leading challenges of the 21st century.” Young people will change our world — 4-H can help give them the tools they’ll need along the way.
Sarah Yale is a freelance writer, and a mother of two 4-H members who are having a lot of fun.