October 4 through 10 is National 4-H Week, an opportunity for youth, parents and volunteers from across the country to celebrate the nation’s most successful youth development program. Many events will be occurring virtually over Zoom, Facebook Live, and other social media platforms. While it’s unfortunate there can’t be more in-person events—a roomful of 4-H’ers can generate more “green energy” than any other power source—virtual platforms will allow youth from across the state and the country to link up and connect with each other like never before.
Theme of this year’s National 4-H Week is Opportunity for All.
Let’s break that phrase down into two parts:
We pride our country in being a land of opportunity. Over 100 years ago, the Land-Grant College System and the Cooperative Extension Service were created to offer all Americans access to the resources and expertise of higher education. As the youth development program of Extension, 4-H extends these opportunities to our younger citizens. 4-H began with corn clubs, and tomato clubs that gave young people the opportunity to learn first-hand about advanced agriculture techniques and participate in the economy by selling their own vegetables and livestock. This served as a model that would evolve over the decades to encompass STEM education, healthy living, citizenship and public speaking.
Every year, 4-H offers 6 million youth nationwide—more than 200,000 in Florida—a palette of opportunities. Opportunities to discover their own interests and talents by allowing them to choose from over 300 self-guided, hands-on projects. Opportunities to develop employable skills through first-hand experience. Opportunities to learn from experts—many 4-H volunteers and leaders come from industry, agriculture, education. And most of all, 4-H offers youth opportunities to develop their self-confidence in a supportive, knowledgeable environment of concerned adults and youth volunteers.
Through 4-H clubs, school enrichment programs, and camping experiences, 4-H prepares our young people for the work force by instilling the time management, teamwork and problem-solving skills sought after by today’s employers.
Here’s were there’s more work to be done. Because if there’s one thing that any 4-H leader or volunteer will tell you after years of experience working with youth, it’s that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.
There’s an ‘opportunity gap’ in this country that affects 55 million kids. Barriers to opportunity come from four key elements – ZIP code, race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. These barriers have led to unequal access to education, health and nutrition, and employability. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest have made these inequality issues even more pronounced.
To prevent kids from falling behind, we need to have a serious conversation about how we open 4-H up to more youth.
During this week, the Florida 4-H program will offer a series of virtual activities that will culminate with a discussion of how our state 4-H program can reach underrepresented Florida youth.
Over the course of National 4-H Week, you’ll see a lot of fun activities, creativity and amazing accomplishments by the youth of our nation. This year’s 4-H week is all about celebrating the opportunities 4-H affords and will create a serious discussion about how we can make these opportunities accessible for all our kids.
Florida 4-H Week Activities:
Sunday/Monday – Kickoff the week with the “Show me in 4” state contest entries. Show Me In 4 is a fun statewide promotional contest where youth can show how they “do 4-H” using a 4-minute video or a series of 4 photos. Upload to social media and tag @Florida4H and use #ShowMeIn4.
Tuesday – Florida 4-H Hall of Fame Ceremony – This will be broadcast to Facebook Live beginning at 6:30pm EST
You can watch a recording of the Hall of Fame Ceremony here.
Wednesday – Spirit Day – wear your 4-H green and share a photo to social media by tagging @Florida4H.
Thursday – 4-H Trivia Night on the Florida 4-H Facebook page
Friday – 4-H Camp Night via Zoom with our camping crew
Saturday – #Opportunity4All Forum with State Council Officers
To learn more about National 4-H Week and Florida 4-H, visit https://www.florida4h.com