4-H raising young leaders

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sunday began a week-long celebration of how 4-H programs have benefited communities across America.

Oct. 1 through 7 is designated at National 4-H Week, a time to highlight 4-H, the many programs it offers and the various students who participate.

On today’s Country Living page (A6) you will find testimonials from two Clark County students. Sydney Miller and Brea Simpson, both public relations officers for the 4-H Teen Leadership Club, tell about their experiences with the club and how they have grown thanks to their participation.

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Their stories are two of probably thousands of members of the community who have been involved with 4-H and experiences tremendous personal and professional growth thanks to it.

4‑H is a  youth-oriented program delivered by Cooperative Extension — “a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing,” according to the National 4-H Week website. “Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids experience 4‑H in every county and parish in the country — through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4‑H camps.”

4-H has approximately 6 million participants from all walks of life, including 1.8 million in urban communities, 1.6 million in suburban communities and 2.6 million in rural communities.

While many would believe 4-H is all about farming and agriculture, that only scratches the surface of what the program offers youth in Clark County. There is something for everyone.

4-H is actively involved in promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in schools. Through the annual speech contest, 4-H plays a big role is teaching public speaking and communication skills. There is no doubt these skills can translate into any career, including agriculture careers.

Within 4-H, there are clubs that focus on leadership skills, sewing, cooking, livestock and agriculture, robotics and much more.

Regardless of the project area, all 4‑H programs include mentoring and career readiness as core elements.

4-H’ers participate in 5 million science projects, 2.5 million healthy-living projects and 2.5 million service projects annually.

It is clear that 4-H, and its many volunteers, mentors and youth development agents, are actively helping to raise the next generation of responsible, productive, well-educated and well-rounded group of community leaders.

And as Sydney Miller said, the club is changing lives: “4-H has truly changed my life. I have competed on state levels in many different categories. It has awarded me many scholarships for college and also toward the multitude of conferences I attend.”