I may have a biased opinion because I am the 4-H Agent in Flagler County and have two children actively involved, so you can say I love 4-H. However, if you have never heard of 4-H you deserve to know the importance of the program!
The picture you see in this article is the 4-H life skills wheel. These are all the skills 4-H aims to teach youth who are activity involved in our program. Our goal is to have all members experience these fundamentals during their 4-H journey, which are skills that will last a lifetime. Since I am not able to mention them all in this article, even though I would love to, I am going to list a couple that are very important to me.
Leadership: In each of our clubs, there are several officer positions that youth can hold, starting with cloverbuds, which are 5-7 years old. Each year most of our clubs elect a president, vice president and treasurer, among many officers positions that they choose to include in their club, whom are all voted on by their peers. Holding an officer position allows youth to lead by organizing and planning events and answering any questions their peers may have regarding the planned events. These may seem like baby steps, but these are the steps that evolve our youth into amazing leaders.
Leadership does not stop at the club level, it continues with county, district and state events. Sometimes public speaking is just not their thing, and that is fine. We have other way to incorporate leadership skills outside of public speaking. When I organize events and need youth volunteers to assist, whether it be bringing their steer to a local workshop, or teaching food safety at a class, I use these opportunities to find youth to assist me that have a passion for the areas I am teaching. They do not realize in the moment, but they are inadvertently developing leadership skills while teaching others something they are passionate about.
Social Skills: I am the first to admit that I always have my phone with me. It seems my entire life revolves around it; between work and my personal life, my phone seems to always be in use. However, that is the great thing about 4-H and our passion for teaching experiential learning. These kids have the opportunity to work hands on with their leaders, peers and experts. This allows them to take a break from their phones and absorb having fun with one another while learning so many great things. Even with the challenges we have faced during the pandemic and not holding in-person events, we have successfully held some amazing camps. I am involved in the virtual poultry camp Florida 4-H is holding and the participation has been phenomenal. Even though they are learning virtually, they have the opportunity to share their ideas, thoughts and participate in the activities we offer during these camps.
I wish I could list a few more skills because it excites me so much to see the beneficial impact 4-H has on our youth, whether it be in person or virtually, the results are amazing. If you have never been involved in 4-H in the past, I encourage you to try it this year! Registration opens September 1st. If you have any questions about how you can join, give the 4-H office a call. We would love to hear from you!
Contributed by Alisha Hutchinson, UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County 4-H Agent
The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution