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A Success Story

What is a Success Story?  According to “Guidelines for Writing Quality Impact Statements for Workload and Marketing,” (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/wc241): Impact statements tell the story of UF/IFAS Extension and how our work helps people solve real problems that impact their everyday lives.
Good educators know that getting people interested is the first goal of instruction. Storytelling has long been acknowledged as an effective means of developing interest (Benge & Harder, 2008).

An Introduction to a Special Young Man
I would like to share a Success Story with you (the names have been changed). In 2013, Penny England signed her oldest son up for an archery class. At eleven, Mason was reserved but showed an aptitude for shooting sports. Over the years, Mason’s family expanded to include a brother and two sisters. As a home-schooled family, Mason was able to take advantage of many programs offered by Volusia County 4-H. Unfortunately, Mason’s mother’s marriage to his step-father ended and custody issues provided a great deal of stress for the family. The family struggled financially, but with support from her parents, Penny was able to stay in the area. This time was especially hard on Mason.Right on target!

Mason is a wonderful son to Penny and helps tremendously with the care of his siblings. He also loves 4-H. The Volusia County 4-H program has assisted Mason through the tough times. When he thought the family would have to move, he was devastated because he knew would not have the 4-H programs he enjoyed anymore. Over the last few years, though, things have improved for the family – they now have a brand-new home near the 4-H Office and I get to see them very often.

Even though there are still problems he must face, he has a larger group to call on for support – his 4-H family. He belongs to an active 4-H club, and has begun showing rabbits, inspired by another teen 4-H’er. He attends all shooting sports classes and as many special interest workshops as he can. Through those classes, he has made many items that he has entered in the fair, including sewing projects, baking, and canning. His writing skills have improved dramatically and as a result, his record books and 4-H essays earn blue ribbons. And, at 17, because of 4-H, Cooking is his passion.Mason has decided upon a career. He plans to become a chef. Cooking classes led him to enroll in the cooking project. He found he had an aptitude for cooking and he even started cooking regular healthy meals for his family.

“Adolescents’ cooking skills strongly predict future nutritional well-being: Confidence in cooking ability led to fewer fast food meals, more meals as a family, and more frequent preparation of meals with vegetables in adulthood, according to a new study. Evidence suggests that developing cooking and food preparation skills is important for health and nutrition, yet the practice of home cooking is declining and now rarely taught in school. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that developing cooking skills as a young adult may have long-term benefits for health and nutrition (https://www.sciencedaily.com/ releases/2018/04/ 180417181125.htm).”

One of the National 4-H focus areas is Healthy Lifestyles: “Our programming empowers youth to be healthy – body and mind – with the skills to make healthy decisions and lead healthy lifestyles. Having the confidence and skills to lead healthy lifestyles not only improves overall well-being; it enables youth to tackle life’s challenges today and become leaders in their lives, careers and communities as they grow into responsible adulthood (https://4-h.org/parents/healthy-living/).”

The Benefit of 4-H: Mason has had to mature faster than other teens his age and has a lot of responsibilities, but he has made many friends in 4-H and he is laughing again. The Volusia County 4-H program has made an impact on this young man’s life by being a constant in his life and providing the Essential Elements of positive youth development. “In order to develop self-confidence, youth need to feel and believe they are capable, and they must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. By exploring 4-H projects and activities, youth master skills to make positive career and life choices. Additionally, youth need to have a safe environment for making mistakes and getting feedback, not just through competition, but also as an ongoing element of participation. Finally, youth need the breadth and depth of topics that allow them to pursue their own interests (Kress, 2004).”

Mason has one more year in 4-H to continue exploring his interests and plans to remain active. According to him, “I am grateful to have learned patience and the life skills I need to help me handle things because of 4-H.” Mason is truly a success story.

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