EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Developing beloved community through 4-H

2014-01-19T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Developing beloved community through 4-HBy Joan Grott nwitimes.com
January 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

In the 4-H program, we’re in the business of “positive youth development." What does that mean? We’re playing a role in helping youths discover their potential and developing them into the future leaders of our beloved communities.

Members are learning countless life skills they will be able to apply at home, school and in their communities, both now and in the future. Those life skills learned include such important attributes as: serving the community, civic engagement, responsibility, self-confidence, teamwork, and time management (just to name a few).

If you were ever a 4-H member, you probably remember doing “community service activities," don’t you? You maybe did a food drive, shoveled snow for the elderly, sent holiday cards to soldiers, provided Christmas gifts to individuals in need, did a coat and mitten drive, cleaned up your local cemetery, volunteered for something in your neighborhood, the list could go on. And I bet you learned something from the experience, whether you realized it at the time or not.

The 4-H philosophy is "learn by doing," and by participating in those community-oriented volunteer activities youths are learning an important trait that we hope they carry with them and apply later on in their lives to positively impact their community, their country, and their world! The nationwide "4-H Study of Positive Youth Development" shows youths engaged with 4-H are:

  • Nearly four times more likely to make contributions to their communities.
  • About two times more likely to be civically active.
  • 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.

Instilling such important traits in young people is how we assure that our beloved community is in good hands in the future! (Data from the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University.)

Speaking of our beloved community, tomorrow we celebrate the work of Martin Luther King Jr. In celebration of all King did that has impacted our world, Valparaiso University has a day-long event tomorrow, “MLK 2014: The Beloved Community."

If you would like to visit about how 4-H can impact the community, be sure to catch the 2:30 p.m. session entitled “Developing the Beloved Community: The Role of 4-H and the Revolution of Responsibility." I will be there along with Aimee Tomasek, associate professor of art at VU. Get all the details at www.valpo.edu/mlk.

4-H is now underway for 2014! Let us connect you with a caring 4-H volunteer club leader near you. 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.

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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