The Case for 4-H
Let’s see how you do with this short quiz . . .
- What is a wether? A gilt? A cavy? A heifer? What does ‘bracing’ mean? What is AI? What is the difference between an Australorp and a Lionhead?
- What is the first thing you do in the kitchen and what would you listen for when your jam comes out of the hot water bath?
- What is huanglongbing? What is a primary insect pest of sugarcane or a disease of tomatoes?
- What does ‘on the flat’ mean? What is ‘dressage’ and a ‘flying change’?
- Where would you find the ‘speed bump’? How do you determine eye dominance?
- How would you set the stitch length and tension or fill a bobbin?
- Do need a vote to approve the minutes or the treasurer’s report in a meeting? What is the purpose of Robert’s Rules of Order?
- What is a great source of anti-oxidants? How many servings of vegetables do you need each day? How much exercise should you get each day?
- How many lobes does a sweet gum leaf have? Is water hyacinth a native plant or an invasive plant? Can you name an edible Florida native plant?
- Can you give an example of a member of Orthoptera? What is IPM?
- Coding is another name for __________________.
Hmm . . . I’ll bet you did not answer them all! We teach these things in 4-H.
So, why 4-H? From the author’s point of view, everything. But here are a few points for you to consider:
Four-H has been around for over 100 years (https://4-h.org/about/history/). It is a partnership between the USDA, state governments through the land grant university system, and county governments. Four-H is in more than 50 countries and has about seven million members! We remain successful because we focus on life skills development and use the Essential Elements (Belonging, Independence, Generosity, and Mastery) for all we do! Read more at the following websites: https://4-h.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/101.9_Targeting_Life_Skills.pdf and https://4-h.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/TheEssentialElementsof4HYouthDevelopment.pdf.
Point #2: Quality
Because of 4-H’s affiliation with the land-grant university system, all curriculum is research-based. From aerospace to zoology and everything in between, curriculum is developed by specialists in their fields and youth development specialists. According to national mandate, all programs focus on Citizenship and Leadership; Health Living; STEM; and Workforce Preparation. Four-H is administered through multiple avenues such as after-school and in-school programs, community clubs, and camps by screened volunteers and youth development specialists.
Point #3: Inclusionary
Four-H is open to all youth between the ages of 5 and 18. We are all about family and local communities too. Research has shown that “developmental assets” help youth grow. The more assets youth have, the healthier and more successful they will be. Assets include relationships with caring adults, service to others, school engagement, and cultural competence, just to name a few. Refer to these websites for more about our philosophy: https://4-h.org/about/equity-and-inclusion/ and https://www.search-institute.org/our-research/development-assets/developmental-assets-framework/.
Point #4: Preparation
Youth today are tomorrow’s adults: leaders, parents, and workers. Research has shown that this generation needs skills including emotional intelligence, creativity, people management, and coordination with others. Every generation faces challenges. Presently, we are facing social unrest and inequality and a pandemic. We continue to see increased stress, childhood obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, single family households, and increasing technology accompanied with materialism. Youth programs like 4-H help youth learn to communicate with others, build self-confidence, and learn new skills that can turn into careers. Read more at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/03/21st-century-skills-future-jobs-students/ and https://freeteensyouth.org/the-top-10-issues-facing-youth-today/.
We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends. ~ Mary McLeod Bethune