Young people who participate in 4-H gain valuable leadership skills that will serve them well inside and outside of the classroom. WVU Extension 4-H’ers will join more than 63,000 of their peers in celebrating National 4-H Week. The week-long celebration begins Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 7 and will focus on theme, “Grow True Leaders.”
West Virginia youths enjoy programming and activities such as robotics, initiating community service projects, gaining leadership skills and more as part of West Virginia 4-H Youth Development efforts.
West Virginia 4-H is a free youth development program of the West Virginia University Extension Service that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and emphasizes a “learn by doing” approach to education.
Anyone between the ages of 5 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission. Younger kids who are interested in the practices of 4-H can start at age 5 in the Cloverbud program, which focuses more on fun and social activities that set the stage for future learning. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.
While 4-H programs of the past have focused on agriculture and farming, today’s 4-H programs are more diverse, exposing kids to concepts in science, engineering, technology, citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Club members may also learn about higher education opportunities and even be eligible for scholarships given by the WVU Extension Service.
According to Brent Clark, WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program director, 4-H is an opportunity for those in the Mountain State to join an organization that is helping to empower youths to become true leaders within their communities.
“Getting our young people involved in 4-H provides them with a solid foundation in leadership, as well as many unique opportunities and experiences,” said Clark. “Our programs have evolved to provide critical skills that will give them a head start in preparing for their future careers.”
The program focuses on developing leadership skills by building self-esteem and character, fostering citizenship and teaching healthy habits.
A national study of the “learn by doing” approach shows that on average, 4-H’ers achieve higher grades in school, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors associated with young adulthood, and are more likely to pursue careers in science, engineering or computer technology.
In summer camps and programs across the state, West Virginia 4-H’ers are building robots, helping the environment, exploring math and science, traveling around the globe and fostering healthy lifestyles.
“4-H provides long-term benefits for our youths. We hope parents and families will take this opportunity to learn more about the great programs and activities, and encourage their children to get involved in this outstanding program,” said Clark.
As part of National 4-H Week, members will be participating in a number of activities and events, including “WV 4-H Rocks,” a project where youths can use their creativity to paint rocks which will be left around local communities in an effort to engage and educate more young people about 4-H, as well as encourage tourism. For more information on this project, visit https://www.facebook.com/wv4Hrocks/.
For more information on 4-H opportunities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit extension.wvu.edu.
Tara Curtis, WVU Extension Service
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