Why I LOVE 4H
We finished our county fair last month. It is the craziest and hardest and most fun weeks out of our entire year! Because we have several species of animals, we actually live there in the RV campgound. We wouldn’t do it any other way!
Before we moved to the farm, I had a vague idea of what 4H was. I thought it was only animal related and had to do with the county fair. And that my husband took part of it while he was a child. That is it.
We just finished our SIXTH year with Idaho’s 4H program. I cannot believe that as I have never been a part of one thing for that long as I have never lived in the same place that long! And it is a HUGE part of our lives. Because we are in robotics, we do it year around (and just started our seventh year) but most groups do their projects only in the spring and summer months at least here in Idaho. I have friends in Texas who have their season earlier in the year when hit is cooler.
4H is an international program developed to aid in “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development”. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs. (From the 4H site)
The official ages are from age 8 to age 18. But our area has CloverBuds that is anyone under 8 years old. Kaylee started as a CloverBud and it was an amazing way to start. Because they can just have fun and not keep track of their records.
You can learn SO much with the 4H program! I know a homeschooling mom who plans a lot of her curriculum around her children’s 4H projects. Some offerings are woodworking, sewing, baking, rocketry, wild life sciences, robotics, public speaking, cup cake wars…. the projects our county offers is pages long!!!
These are some of the projects (that I REMEMBER) that my kids have completed – LEGO Ag, rocketry, fishing, baking, cake decorating, rabbits, chickens, pigs, steers, wild life science studies, entomology, shooting sports, pinewood derby cars, scrapbooking, LEGO robotics, and floral arranging.
I wish I knew about 4H when I was younger as I would have loved it! I did learn that there are clubs JUST for military families. That is amazing since before we moved to Idaho, I thought you had to live on farm to do it. How wrong I was!
The basics of the program is that we meet to focus on the project for a minimum of 6 meetings over the year, partake in a community service project together as a group, give a demonstration of what you’ve learned, and interview about the project before the fair. During the fair, the members see if they have received awards and display their projects. Awards are not presented as a competition among the youth but awards the member’s effort and learning experience.
But this program is an excellent way for our youth to learn much needed skills – learn about a new project that THEY are interested in, how to keep records, how to speak in front of a group, write an informative paper, and work together as a community.
Things my children have learned through the program – how to keep working on a HARD project (Bodie’s steer had to be trained to lead behind an atv before he let a boy lead him), you can have fun doing a not fun job (my favorite part of fair week is mucking out the pig stalls every morning at 6 am with our group) and community building.
The adults in our 4H community are amazing. They really want to help the youth learn and grow and do then best job they can do! They have been a positive influence for each of my children. In fact, through the program, my oldest got her first official job working in the 4H office.
Each county around the country should have their own Extension office that houses the 4H program. They can provide information to help you find the perfect group for what you are interested. I just googled “my county extension office”.
Had you ever heard of 4H? Would you be interested in learning more? It is the best!!!