4-H seeking members
Published 7:18 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Going back to school isn't the only activity keeping students busy this fall. Early fall is recruitment season for 4-H, the nation's largest youth organization. With more than 6 million members, 4-H seeks to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.
In Alabama, nearly 180,000 youth are involved in 4-H. Cooperative Extension System agents conduct 4-H in every county. While membership is open all year, most membership drives take place during the first three months of the school year.
In Escambia County, 4-H meetings begin in October. However, I will meet with school principals and parent-teacher organizations and other leaders in September to tell them about the 4-H Club. I will also set up 4-H club meeting schedules for the year.
Whether youth, between the ages of 9 and 19, live in a city, suburb or rural area, there's something for them in 4-H. There are many ways young people can participate in 4-H. In many counties including Escambia, 4-H works with schools to provide 4-H educational materials and projects for teachers and volunteers to use in classes. These programs are called school enrichment because they supplement the school curriculum. They provide students with a learn-by-doing process in science and other subjects.
Parents' roles in 4-H are important, too. Besides providing support for their own children, parents serving as 4-H adult leaders provide valuable learning experiences for their children.
There also are many after-school programs in which members meet after school on campus.
Community or neighborhood 4-H clubs are also popular. These clubs are often organized in a small town, a suburban community, a church or a housing complex and usually range from six to 100 youth. These clubs serve a wide age range of 4-H'ers, and most members enroll in projects according to their interests. Home schools are usually involved in these clubs. Adult volunteer leaders coordinate club activities, while the 4-H agent serves as a resource for the club. They supply a monthly newsletter and 4-H educational materials for the clubs.
Special interest clubs target specific interests such as childcare, DOT (Diet's Our Thing ) nutrition program, livestock judging, shooting sports or a particular need in their community.
4-H'ers can take part in a wide variety of activities offered by the community, county and state including workshops, achievement programs, camps, tours, competitive events, international exchanges, exhibits, fairs, statewide conferences and national events such as National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Conference. National 4-H Congress focuses on leadership, work skill preparation and community service.
Competitive events are one of many educational methods used in 4-H. Participation in competitive events help 4-H'ers make and defend decisions, speak publicly, gain knowledge and skills in a subject matter and learn to deal with competitive situations.
For more information about becoming a 4-H'er or starting a club in your school, church or community, call me, Carolyn Bivins, at 867-7760.