Hillsborough 4-H Grows Leaders
Hillsborough County 4-H focuses on building a positive youth development program that highlights the youth’s growth in essential life skills identified by existing research. Some of these skills, like developing self-esteem, focus on a youth’s sense of being; while others, like teamwork and self-motivation, focus on the youth’s working ability.
This year, we’ve had two youth that stood out in their development in areas of self-esteem and teamwork, as well as motivation. These youth, both senior aged males, joined the Hillsborough County 4-H program in the 2016-2017 program year, their first in 4-H.
“Before last year we had no earthly idea what 4-H entailed. I had been seeking diligently an organization where they could have a sport and team building experiences 4 H turned out to be God sent,” the youths’ mother says.
The youth were elected to officer roles in their club and have been described as valued leaders in their club. “Our first meeting was the beginning of my oldest son’s change. To my surprise and out of nowhere, he stood wanting to run for president of an organization we knew nothing about. I tried to talk him out of it asking him if it was something he seriously wanted to do,” their mother states. “Unfortunately, he lost the president spot but, to my surprise, when they started to ask for who was running for vice president he raised his hand again this time he was elected! He then talked his younger brother into running for office also.”
Within two months of enrolling, both youth joined and became active participants in our county Youth Leadership Board, taking part in the decision-making aspects of the county’s 4-H organization, as well as participating in county-wide 4-H functions. According to their mother, “I’ve seen them wanting to venture out of their comfort zones to try new things. They’ve learned to be okay with small failures knowing that greater success will come. They enjoyed going to the leadership meetings, participating in the county fair and putting a band together for the County events day.”
By the end of the year, both youth applied to and were accepted as camp counselors, where they impressed all experienced counselors and faculty alike with their poise and preparedness, as well as their maturity and ability to speak clearly and eloquently.
The youths’ mother concluded by sharing this thought with us: “As a parent, you want to involve your children in organizations that will help them be family and community strong. Not only have we achieved that with 4-H, I see them making life-long friendships and truly growing under the direction and dedicated skill of the volunteers. Such well-rounded growth and experience is needed in making sure the foundation is set for my sons to be responsible young men later on in their lives. 4-H has helped us in our goal to give them unique experiences outside of their cultural base.”