Youth need nourishing and supportive relationships and environments for them to develop into healthy and productive adults. 4-H is a positive youth development program that serves young people by providing positive learning environments facilitated by caring adults. The essential elements of 4-H are the guiding factors that help staff and volunteers focus on the basic developmental needs of youth. The four essential elements of 4-H are belonging, generosity, independence, and mastery. These elements were derived from the work of the National 4-H Impact Design Implementation Team, who reviewed the basic and applied research on characteristics of effective programs for youth development.
The 4-H Pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
I pledge my head to clearer thinking. Generosity provides youth with the opportunity to value and serve others. Community-based clubs must complete two community service projects annually. The youth members, through parliamentary procedure, determine how and when they will serve their community. The premise of generosity is that you can find oneself when helping others. Iris Jackson, vice-president of the 4-H Lake County Council says, “4-H teaches fundamental life skills about how to take care of the places we live in and help grow our community, whether it’s our town, county, or state.”
I pledge my heart to greater loyalty. Generosity teaches youth to develop empathy and concern for others. Youth involved in a club develop values such as respect, concern, and acceptance of others. Youth in 4-H gain an understanding of others’ needs and learn how to respond to those needs. 4-H youth can develop values such as compassion and tolerance for diversity and the ability to take the perspective of others.
I pledge my hands to larger service. Generosity helps youth see that their reach can extend to the world. The pledge states that larger service is fundamental to the 4-H program. Service is not limited to the club and community but can be extended to the country and world. Last year, a Green Clover Legacy 4-H Club had a global mission of educating the world on the importance of bees. They accomplished this mission by sending beehives to Kenya.
I pledge my health to better living. Generosity gives youth the ability to live a better life. Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose, serving the community fulfills that need. Studies show that individuals who participate in community service projects as a youth are more likely to maintain this behavior as an adult. Healthy communities begin with everyone playing a role in civic life.
The concept of generosity is important as it teaches youth to be engaged locally, nationally, and globally. The 4-H youth development program focuses on giving and service to others and has been part of the 4-H experience for over a century. Generosity allows youth to practice servant leadership and connects youth to their world so they can make meaningful positive changes. Serving others is a way for members to gain exposure and contribute to the club, community, country, and world. For more information on Lake County 4-H contact Dallas Meringolo at firstname.lastname@example.org.