EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: 4-H offers something for everyone

2013-01-20T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: 4-H offers something for everyoneBy Joan Grott nwitimes.com
January 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When you think of 4-H, do you think of farm kids, cows and cooking? Though 4-H has its roots in agriculture dating back to the early 1900s, today’s 4-H program has so much more to offer!

Members can learn about the science of flight through the 4-H aerospace project, or learn skills for a future career or lifelong hobby through the photography project. In Porter County, there are nearly 80 different 4-H projects to choose from. Through such projects, members have the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and serve their community.

4-H clubs meet throughout the school year and focus on community service, learning, and of course fun. Through their 4-H club and 4-H project work, members are learning countless life skills they will be able to apply at home, school and in their future lives.

An informal poll I recently conducted indicated that former 4-H'ers attributed the following important life skills to their 4-H experience: communication, responsibility, leadership, decision-making, self-confidence, teamwork and time management. I think we can all agree, that these are indeed essential skills to have as one progresses down the road of life! The 4-H program gives youth the opportunity to develop these important skills in a positive and caring environment.

“Learn by doing” is the 4-H philosophy, and the 4-H experience encourages youths to experiment, innovate and think independently. The nationwide “4-H Study of Positive Youth Development” shows that youth engaged with 4-H are: nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school; nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college; 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities. (Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University.)

The 4-H program opens many doors for members, beyond the 4-H club and 4-H project work. Members can participate in county 4-H camp, 4-H science workshops at Purdue University, Indiana 4-H Band and Chorus, demonstration and public speaking events, leadership conferences and much more. Additionally, the Indiana 4-H program offers numerous scholarship opportunities, as does the Porter County 4-H program.

Here in Porter County, 4-H is in full swing for 2013. Now is a great time to get your K-12 student involved! You can contact Porter County 4-H at Purdue Extension-Porter County at (219) 465-3555 or find us online at www.extension.purdue.edu/porter. For information on 4-H in other Indiana counties, go to www.four-h.purdue.edu.

And in case you’re still wondering what the 4-Hs are, you can refer to the 4-H Pledge:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,

My heart to greater loyalty,

My hands to larger service,

And my health to better living,

For my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Joan Grott is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator in the Porter County office of Purdue University's Cooperative Extension Service. The opinions are the writer's.

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