Many have heard of the 4-H youth program, especially in Elbert County. But there is much more to it than most people, even those who have children involved or who have been involved themselves, probably realize. And this is National 4-H Week, a great time to learn about the organization.
4-H is a community for youth ages 5-18 where its participants learn leadership, citizenship and life skills. Its roots date back to 1902 and today it’s the largest out-of-school youth development program in the nation, making it quite influential in how kids view themselves and the world around them.
The program is delivered through Cooperative Extension, a community of 100 public universities throughout the nation, and provides unique opportunities for youth to “learn by doing.”
The “H” stands for four words — head, heart, hands and health — emphasizing the importance of youth connecting with their communities, being well-informed and engaged. 4-H participants will take part in club meetings, participate in various activities with friends, present educational demonstrations, master new skills with hands-on projects, and have fun at fairs, camps and in contests. 4-H is not just for kids; the program relies on adult volunteers to provide leadership, expertise, knowledge and passion to assist 4-H members. This is a program that influences multiple generations.
For children ages 5-7, Cloverbud programming is available. The focus here is more activity-based rather than project completion and emphasizes cooperative learning. Cloverbud members take part in age-appropriate activities designed to allow participants to sample a variety of offerings in a supervised setting. Additionally, Elbert County Cloverbuds have the opportunity to participate in Cloverbud Camp each year the first full week in June, Monday through Thursday in the mornings. This camp is free to Elbert County Cloverbud 4-H members.
4-H provides innumerable opportunities for its participants to expand knowledge, learn new skills and find new passions. 4-H programs are available in every county and parish in the United States. Program areas range from STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to agriculture, healthy living and civic engagement. Extensive studies through Tufts University have shown that 4-H members are four times more likely to give back to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier choices for themselves and their families and two times more likely to participate in extracurricular STEM activities.
The Elbert County 4-H Extension Office is the best point of contact for specific programs available in the area. National 4-H Week runs Oct. 1-7 and is a great opportunity to learn about the program. The Extension Office website, elbert.extension.colostate.edu, offers information about 4-H and other programs provided through the Extension Office.
A Family 4-H Guidebook can be downloaded from the site and supplies an overview of the registration process as well as a thorough list of available projects. The registration window for the upcoming 4-H season begins Oct. 16 and runs through Dec. 31. To register for 4-H here in Elbert County, new members will need to call the Extension Office at 303-621-3162. There is an annual enrollment fee of $30, though additional fees may be required depending on the projects chosen.