By Dallas Daniels, 4-H/Youth Development Agent
Youth development is essential in preparing children to meet the challenges of adulthood. 4-H is the perfect organization to prepare today’s youth. Over 100 years ago, 4-H began and since then the organization has developed a plethora of active, thriving citizens.
My time with 4-H began as an infant as I was fortunate enough to be born into the 4-H community. My father managed Camp Timpoochee and Camp Ocala for more than fifteen years and I was raised on the 4-H camping scene. During my time living at Camp Ocala, I became a 4-H member in a Umatilla Club in which I showed rabbits and completed sewing projects. During the summer of my college years I became camp staff for Camp Cloverleaf and Camp Timpoochee. In the time I was part of 4-H I gained invaluable life skills, leadership skills, and I gained valuable information pertaining to the environment and healthy living. The essence of 4-H is within the 4-H Pledge which is stated at every club meeting and every day at camp.
My Head to clearer thinking
My Heart to greater loyalty
My Hands to larger service
My Health to better living
For my club, my community, my country and my world.
This pledge broken into the 4 “H’s” demonstrates the importance of 4-H. The program offers many opportunities by teaching life skills; providing leadership opportunities at the local, state, and national level; allowing children to give back to their community; and teaching kids to respect and cherish their environment. By breaking down the 4 “H’s” of the pledge, it is obvious that 4-H “makes the better best.”
“I pledge my head to clearer thinking.” 4-H teaches members to actively engage in learning through experiential learning. Projects are essential to the 4-H way of life and there is a wide variety of projects that are available to members. Each project teaches youth to “learn by doing” and helps them set goals and establish the skills they want to learn during the length of the project. The members are able to take the knowledge gained from the project and can apply goal setting and learning skills in life.
“I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.” 4-H teaches loyalty and reliability through clubs and projects. Members take a year, on average, to complete projects and during that time learn responsibility. Within the clubs members are taught to be loyal to leaders, volunteers, club members, and their community by attending meetings, fundraisers, and events.
“I pledge my hands to larger service.” 4-H teaches members to give back to the community and help those in need. In Lake County, our clubs frequently serve the community in a multitude of ways. For example, this past year one club made security blankets for autistic children and another club made bags to give to the homeless. 4-H is all about teaching members to serve their community, club, and world.
“I pledge my health to better living.” 4-H provides multiple projects such as photography, arts and crafts, sewing, collections, cooking, and baking and teach members to have healthy leisurely activities. 4-H teaches farm-to-table concepts and encourages members to be active and healthy. This program promotes healthy lifestyles and demonstrates how members should make healthy life choices as it is crucial skill that is needed to become a successful adult.
When all of the “H’s” are put together, it has the ability to empower youth with leadership and life skills that will last a lifetime. The goal of 4-H is to mold children that is part of the program into successful citizens that will be the leaders of tomorrow.
The new 4-H year officially begins September 1, 2017 and this past Saturday August 26, 2017 we had over 100 people come to the Kick-Off party for the upcoming 4-H year. 4-H Lake County Council members did an excellent job setting up and hosting the event to start the new 4-H year. I encourage all families in Lake County to join 4-H and get involved. For more questions regarding how to become involved in 4-H please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the extension office at 352-343-4101.