This week is National 4-H Week. I didn’t grow up with 4-H, as my husband did. So, I am now having the opportunity to learn about it through my children’s experience. The history of 4-H is rich and its huge network reaches every corner of the country. It is the nation’s largest youth development organization. (www.4h.org)
To begin with, I never understood what the H’s meant in 4-H. They stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health, and are the four values that members work on throughout the year. Head - Managing, Thinking; Heart - Relating, Caring; Hands - Giving, Working; Health - Being, Living. We regularly engage in activities that relate to these Hs. We’ve brought birthday cakes to residents of Divine Providence Home, made Valentines for Veterans and Christmas decorations for Sleepy Eye Care Center and that’s only a few of the activities and programs we are involved in.
The mission of 4-H is to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. The vision is: A world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change. In addition to these overall values, there was a longitudinal study conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University that showed youth who are engaged with 4-H are nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school; nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college; 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities www.4h.org. Sounds absolutely wonderful! Aren’t these all, things any parent would wish for their child?
My children have been involved in their club for about five years and the experience just gets richer every year. They are members of the Sleepy Eye Wide Awakes. The second Sunday of each month, we share lunch and hold a meeting run by students who have expressed an interest in holding officer positions. All students actively participate and get to share their thoughts and opinions on various topics. The meeting is followed by a presentation of a topic and then a demonstration by students. Students have demonstrated how to make a special treat, a craft or take care of a pet. The opportunities are endless. I wasn’t comfortable talking in front of groups until my last year of college. I love that my kiddos become more and more comfortable with this great skill at a young age!
As a parent, the opportunities 4-H has offered my children, is something I am truly grateful for. If you are already a member of 4-H, remember to celebrate it this week! If you haven’t yet found a club, I encourage you to consider it. It is open to everyone! There are many great clubs in our Brown County area. For more information check out this website: www.extension.umn.edu/county/brown.