October is 4-H Month: Celebrating life, laughter and learning
By Mary Hightower
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- October is National 4-H Month
- Youth development that celebrates life, laughter and learning
- Learn more from your county extension office
LITTLE ROCK -- Talk to any one of its more than 140,000 Arkansas members and you’ll learn that 4-H is more than just a club meeting or an after-school activity.
“They’ll tell you that 4-H is full of life, laughter and learning,” said Angie Freel, instructor, 4-H Youth Development for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “And October is National 4-H month, our chance to celebrate and share what we do.”
The learn-by-doing philosophy takes many forms, she said.
“There are horse shows and service projects -- even underwater robotics,” Freel said. “4-H is a place to learn the leadership, healthy living and science skills to help young people achieve success through school and adulthood.”
One aspect of 4-H Month is the Day of Service, when members take on projects to help their communities. Past projects have included downtown cleanups, decorating seniors’ homes and conducting food drives for food pantries.
In Polk County, for their day of service, 4-H members packed some 20,000 meals for Pack Shack, a Rogers, Arkansas, -based non-profit whose mission is to supply provisions for those in need. Pack Shack distributes food and other supplies to food pantries, churches and other organizations. The Day of Service event coincided with another big 4-H event, the dedication of a new 4-H building to replace the one destroyed in a massive tornado in 2009.
“Pack Shack was immediately following the dedication,” said Carla Vaught, Polk County extension staff chair. “It took about 1.5 hours to package the meals. It was awesome!
“The kids had FUN and made a big difference, she said. “And it seemed like there were 1,000 of them in there!”
A disaster of another sort led to an early Day of Service for 4-H members in Calhoun County. In June, a fire destroyed the county shop and operations center. 4-Hers helped county officials restock and rebuild.
“The county lost all tools, service equipment, several service trucks, and other items,” said Jaret Rushing, Calhoun County interim staff chair. “As a project, eight Calhoun County 4-Hers and leaders gathered to accept donations from residents to aid in the restocking of county operation tool bank. Tools, money, and other items of interest were all gathered and presented to Judge Floyd Nutt on Aug. 19.”
Effective youth development
As a youth development program, 4-H is effective. Research done over a 10-year period found that 4-H members are:
- Nearly four times more likely to make contributions to their community
- Twice as likely to be active in the community
- Twice as likely to make healthier choices
- Girls who are 4-H members are two to three times more likely to take part in high school science programs
(See the report at http://bit.ly/1Mq0TvW).
To learn more about 4-H contact your county extension office or visit 4-H online at http://uaex.uada.edu/4h-youth/default.aspx.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service