4-H is a free youth development program that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and emphasizes learning by doing. 4-H clubs are open to anyone between the ages of 9 and 21. In many areas, children as young as 5 can join a pre-4-H program called Cloverbuds. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.
“Lasting friendships can be formed outside of the world of cell phones and social media,” said Debbie McDonald, WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program director. “Local 4-H clubs provide a safe haven for meeting new friends.”
The program focuses on Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The overall goals are to develop life and leadership skills, build self-esteem and character, foster citizenship and service, and to teach healthy habits.
For more than a century, 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like photography, rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.
West Virginia 4-H’ers are building robots, helping the environment, exploring math and science, traveling to new places, getting healthy and becoming leaders in their communities and beyond.
In fact, a national study of the 4-H “learn by doing” approach shows 4-H’ers are nearly twice as likely to get better grades in school and twice as likely to plan to go to college. That same study found that girls in 4-H are more than twice as likely to participate in science, engineering or computer technology programs as their peers.
For information about 4-H opportunities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service, or visit www.ext.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
Office: 304-293-8735, Cell: 304-376-1829, Cassie.Waugh@mail.wvu.edu
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