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It may be fall but for the 4-H program we are thinking Green.
THE 4-H EXPERIENCE: Brittanie Crook, a 4-H sewing member, works on a project. Her experiences with sewing in 4-H will serve her well studying apparel design at Oregon State University. Submitted photo
October marks the beginning of a new 4-H year. We officially started the season by celebrating National 4-H Week (Oct. 5–11) with the coming year’s theme, Keeping It Green.
In keeping with the theme, 4-H members across the United States will begin making plans to help raise awareness about environmental issues and will initiate projects to make a positive difference in their communities.The 4-H Youth Development Program began in 1902 when a youth organization was started in Clark County, Ohio. The first club was called “The Tomato Club” and thus was born the first specialized 4-H agricultural group. Since that time more than 60 million young people across America have been 4-H members.
Today 4-H is in every community throughout the United States. 4-H is located in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., U.S. territories and U.S. military installations worldwide. 4-H-related programs exist in over 80 countries.
Typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization, in recent years, 4-H has expanded to include science, engineering and technology clubs as well. A 2005 survey showed that 25 percent of 4-H members lived in urban communities, 32 percent in suburban communities and 43 percent in rural communities. Although having embraced many new fields of endeavors over the years, 4-H retains a strong connection to its roots in agriculture and its associated values.
The 4-H name and emblem, adopted in 1924, is protected under a federal statute. The official emblem, the 4-H Cloverleaf, is green with four white H’s. The white symbolizes purity; the green represents nature’s most common color and is emblematic of youth, life, and growth. The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands and health, encouraging its members to develop themselves to their full potential not only as community members but also as human beings. The 4-H motto is, “To make the best better,” while its slogan is “Learn by doing” and is a true testament to its energetic members today.
The 4-H year begins on Oct. 1 each year and ends on Sept. 31. The program is open to all youth in kindergarten through 12th grade and provides many opportunities for young people to learn about the world around them in a positive and safe environment. 4-H programming is based on the theory and practice of positive youth development. In short, it relies on a belief that positive outcomes for young people don’t happen by chance. Instead, it is up to parents, schools, youth organizations and the entire community to help them grow and learn.
Studies strongly suggest that 4-H members do better in school, are more motivated to help others, feel safe to try new things, achieve a sense of self-esteem, and develop lasting friendships. The results of these studies are evidenced in testimonies from our local members. Comments they have written in their 4-H stories are:
“When I got involved in the 4-H program I learned what giving was all about, my sewing club made backpacks for the homeless in Portland — ever since then I have wanted to be a nurse.”
“4-H has changed my life and my attitude by allowing me to be around people who want to make a difference.”
“In 4-H I learned to organize my time, which has made it easy for me to transition between college and high school.”
“4-H has let me have many opportunities that I would not have been able to have had I not been in the program. 4-H gave me confidence and built my self-esteem. This gave me the courage to take on leadership roles and made me feel really good about myself.”
“4-H has provided me with my closest, most reliable and fun friends.”
“4-H has given me many chances to do things that I never would have been able to do at any other place or program. Now in my spare time, instead of sitting on a couch for hours, I have plenty of fun and exciting things to do that really make a difference.”
“Through my experiences in the 4-H program I have gained the skill of standing up in front of people and talking about a subject without stuttering or being nervous.”
Locally we have more than 400 young people actively involved in 4-H under the supervision of over 150 volunteers. A variety of project 4-H clubs are located in every community within the county. We are actively recruiting new members and adult volunteers. Our 4-H leaders say their lives are enriched by working with their members as well as building their own confidence and self-esteem.
If you are interested in learning more about the program and what it can offer your child or you as an adult, we welcome you to attend our 4-H Open House to be held at the Ag Service Center Conference Room on Nov. 3 from 5-6:30 p.m. Stop by and visit with 4-H staff, volunteer leaders and members. They would love to share their experiences and projects with you.
You can also view information on our website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/union/4-H/index. or by contacting us at the OSU Extension Service office at 963-1010.