West Virginia youths can join 75,000 of their peers in “discovering the treasures of 4-H” during National 4-H Week, held Oct. 7-13. Youths can go on a treasure hunt to explore the joys of 4-H, trying new experiences, serving their neighbors, gaining life skills and more along the way, by signing up for the West Virginia 4-H Youth Development program.
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.
In West Virginia, one in every four youths is involved in 4-H. Anyone between the ages of 9 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission. Younger kids, ages 5-to-8, who are interested in the practices of 4-H can join a pre-4-H program called Cloverbuds, 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 so many opportunities and experiences that will benefit them inside and outside of the classroom,” said Clark. “Our programs have evolved to not only provide a strong leadership foundation, but also provide critical life skills, such as teamwork and relationship building, that will provide a solid foundation for the future.”
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 coding computers and building robots, helping the environment, traveling around the globe and becoming more self-confident.
“The 4-H program provides long-term benefits for our youths in a fun, hands-on environment. 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,” Clark said.