What is 4-H?
4-H clubs are part of an educational program for youth. It is designed to provide youth with life skills and involvement in the community. Projects and activities are designed around the interests of the youth and the volunteer leaders. 4-H can trace its beginnings to over 100 years ago when universities realized that rural youth programs would be an innovative way to introduce new agriculture technology to their communities.
Clubs for youth are normally structured with the adult leaders making the decisions and the youth following those already laid out objectives. 4-H clubs however put the focus on the youth. The youth lead each other and the adults are simply there to supervise and provide guidance. Older youth are the officers but everyone contributes. As such everyone has a say in what activities to do or not do each year.
A 4-H Club normally has various project groups within in. A youth may belong to more than one project group within the club. Some, especially the younger children, may just choose one project to begin with. Projects may include: alpacas, cake decorating, ceramics, fishing, geology, horses, knitting, heritage, livestock, pet care, rabbits, rocketry, small engines and wood crafting.
The project groups meet individually as needed throughout the year. The entire group generally comes together once a month for business meetings and group educational programs.
In addition to local clubs, youth will meet others with similar interests throughout the state and even the nation.
Who can join?
Any boy or girl can join 4-H. They must be between the ages of eight and 18.
What are the benefits?Youth will benefit from 4-H in many different ways. In addition to the social aspect and simply having a good time, the youth will build self confidence and a desire to learn. They will gain decision making skills as well as team skills. They will learn practical knowledge.
Which club do I join?
The club your youth will join will depend on where you live and your child’s interests. For example, in Lancaster County (Pennsylvania) there are many community based clubs. For example, those living in the Southern End of Lancaster County would most likely join the Solanco Community. There are also a couple county wide clubs. If your child is interested in raising pigs, he might be more interested in joining the Lancaster County Swine.
What do the four Hs stand for?
The four Hs stand for head, heart, health and hands. 4-H, like any club, has a pledge. The pledge is, “I pledge my head, heart, hands and health to my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
How does one join?
Contact your county’s Cooperative Extension office. You can also go to the National 4-H website and do a search for local club there.
ABOUT JEANNE RUCZHAK-ECKMAN
Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and SolancoNews.com. The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received my Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Lock Haven University, and was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. Her interests include learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, history/travel, gaming and Orthodoxy. You may contact Jeanne with your comments and questions.