Not Just About Animals … 17 Great Things About 4-H

art-0914-4h1In my family, our search for different activities for our children led us to 4-H. We discovered the program offers much more than experiences in farming and raising animals, which is a common misconception.

A national program for children, youth and teens, 4-H offers experiences in leadership, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), expressive arts, and much more. 4-H provides a variety of opportunities to build confidence, learn responsibility, make friends, share interests, develop life-long skills, and make a difference in the community. 

Here are seventeen reasons why 4-H could be right for your child:

Fun 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 across the U.S. are exploring hydroponic gardening, renewable energy sources, bioengineering, collecting data on butterflies through WINGS (a partnership between kids and professional scientists), and much more. 4-H also offers exciting summer camp experiences.

Freedom Kids can explore just about anything that interests them. Support, connections and mentoring are available through 4-H.

All 50 States Have 4-H Programs 4-H is part of the U.S. government Cooperative Extension Service. You can contact your state university, your county cooperative extension office, or http://www.4-H.org for local club information. You can even start your own club, or your child can be an individual member.

4-H is Urban, Suburban and Rural Programs include clubs, afterschool activities, camps, fairs, events and conventions. Activities can be local, county, state, regional or national.

Low Cost There are no uniforms or equipment to purchase to get started.

Varied Time Commitment 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 (there is a 6-hour project requirement to count in your record book as a project).

Opportunity to be Yourself 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.

art-0914-4h28 In California, Ages 5 to 19 Can Participate There are opportunities for everyone!

Mentoring Children are connected to other youth and adults who have knowledge in areas that your child is interested in.

10 Leadership Involvement exposes youth to learn and practice leadership skills that become life skills. There is an annual week-long national leadership summit.

11 Projects and Goals Kids design their own projects and set goals for what they want to learn about. This empowerment process will teach life skills and foster ambition. The projects can be displayed at regional 4-H fairs, giving children a sense of pride and accomplishment.

12 Make Friends Through Shared Interests A great way to create lasting friendships is through activities that can be enjoyed together. There is always something to do or talk about.

13 Making a Difference 4-H youth feel like they are making a difference, in their clubs, their community and their country. 4-H activities open their minds to the larger universe. 4-H youth have opportunities to speak to their state legislators about local and global things that matter now and in the future.

14 Technology Programs and Projects STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a major focus for 4-H to prepare youth for the future, through projects and programs.

15 No Need to Buy A Cow For those interested in learning about animals, they can be leased.

16 Attend National Conferences in Washington, D.C. and Other U.S. Cities The 4-H National Youth Conference Center is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Some of the annual events include the 4-H National Conference, a Citizenship Washington event, and summits on Geospatial Technologies, Agri-Science, Robotics and Healthy Living.

17 Adults Can Volunteer 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.

Butte County 4-H Program Representative Nick Bertagna says, “4-H is a long-established youth program known for successfully teaching life skills and leadership opportunities which follow youth for the rest of their lives. Ask any adults who were once 4-H members!”

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.” Young people will change our world, and opportunities abound for 4-H members “to improve the nation’s ability to compete in key scientific fields and take on the leading challenges of the 21st century.”  

Find out more about your Local 4-H Youth Development Programs:

  • Butte County: cebutte.ucanr.edu; (530) 538-7201
  • Glenn County: ceglenn.ucanr.edu; (530) 865-1152
  • Shasta County: ceshasta.ucanr.edu; (530) 224-4900
  • Siskiyou County: cesiskiyou.ucanr.edu; (530) 842-2711
  • Tehama County: cetehama.ucanr.edu; (530) 527-3101

art-0914-tree

The One Millionth Tree!

By Lisa Shara

4-H members from all over the world participated in a seven-year service-learning project to help slow the impacts of global climate change by planting trees worldwide. The one millionth tree, named “Lion,” was planted on Aug 16, 2014! 

Teen Laura Webber conceived the 4-H Million Trees Project (4HMT) in 2007, and has been its youth leader ever since. She says, “Although the primary goal of 4HMT has been planting trees, the most valuable aspect of the project has been its ability to allow 140,000 individuals to be involved with something larger than themselves.” 

“It’s projects like this that are dragging 4-H into the 21st century,” says Kristin Mercer, a Belmont, CA, 4-H volunteer. In Butte County, local 4-H members planted 16,685 trees after the fires of 2008, helping begin the restoration process of devastated areas. 

This work continues to grow; for information on a projected array of worldwide 4-H tree projects, visit http://www.4hmilliontrees.org.

Sarah Yale
About Sarah Yale

Writer Sarah Yale is the mother of two 4-H members. She and her family all have a great time at 4-H activities. She says, “We’ve met the nicest people, and have made wonderful, lasting friendships with kids and parents.”

Lisa Shara
About Lisa Shara

Writer Lisa Shara lives in upper Northern California where she is involved in a variety of community projects.

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