For decades Community Service has been a very important part of 4-H, along with hands-on learning, which we now call experiential learning.
Community Service opportunities are positive impactful experiences which also benefit our community in multiple ways.
As youth develop different skills in 4-H, they are using their critical thinking skills which is used to address genuine community needs and that is a form of experiential learning.
Community Service is not just doing a one-day task, there is a lot of work and planning that goes into these 4-H opportunities.
Youth begin my selecting and planning a service project and spend much time in each club meeting reflecting, talking and writing about the actual service activity they are performing.
Along the way, youth learn many skills; they become more confident and are able to improve their problem-solving abilities, leadership and communication.
These activities can be completed individually or as part of a group, but most of the time it is a club or countywide effort.
We encourage every 4-H member to participate in at least one community service project that fits his/her areas of learning, as an important feature of 4-H youth development.
This also allows members to experience different types of experiential learning, which will allow them to explore a variety of career options.
This year, Flagler County 4-H put together a countywide community service project to raise 8 baskets full of perishable and non-perishable foods to donate to the Abundant Life Ministries-Hope House, Inc. “Hope House”, which is a residential group home which provides a safe, secure, loving and nurturing environment to boys 13 and older.
On November 23rd the Flagler County 4-H office delivered baskets to the Hope House and we exceeded everyone’s expectations, even mine! Together, as a 4-H community, we collected 20 baskets full of items for members of the Hope House to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal!
The impact Flagler County 4-H made on the lives of these children will be one that will last forever.
When youth recognize that their actions, even small ones, can make an impact, the concept of community service becomes empowering.
Through this project, youth were able to share their experience with others, relate the experiences to life skills, make a connection between their experience and the world around them and apply what they learned throughout the experience to other situations or experience in their lives.
Flagler County 4-H is a program made up of amazing, dedicated volunteers that is empowering youth to become productive, and contributing members of society and participating in community service projects teaches youth skills that will lead for a lifetime.
Contributed by Alisha Hutchinson, UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County 4-H Agent
The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution