4-H programs are instrumental in helping today’s youth become healthy, productive citizens for tomorrow. While participating in hands-on learning experiences in a wide variety of subjects, youth gain life skills, including communication, leadership, citizenship, and decision-making. These learning experiences may be during a summer camp, an in-school program, a special event, or within the community club setting.
In fact, there’s proof of 4-H’s positive impact on youth. Youth development scholar Dr. Richard Lerner works with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University to conduct the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The longitudinal study has found that, when compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:
•Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school;
•Nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college;
•41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and
•25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.
While the 4-H program has changed and expanded in many ways, the 4-H community club has provided the most dramatic impact on youth’s lives. Youth have the opportunity to participate in one of the 4-H community clubs located throughout the county, developing the skills they need to succeed both today and in the future. Besides the over 200 different projects that youth can enroll in, clubs plan field trips, community projects, and fun outings during the year.
Beyond the club level, 4-H members can take part in workshops related to project areas, participate in leadership conferences, or attend 4-H Camp.
The 4-H year began on September 1; however, youth ages 8-18 are invited to join 4-H at any time throughout the year.
To be eligible to exhibit in the 4-H Show, new members must enroll by April 15. Current 4-H members may add or change their project selections until April 15.
For youth ages 5-7, the 4-H Cloverbud Program offers cooperative hands-on learning activities to help kids explore art, plants, animals, science, and the environment. Members also engage in group activities that promote personal development, healthy lifestyles, and a sense of citizenship.
For more information about becoming a 4-H member or volunteer, please contact the University of Illinois Extension office. In Livingston County call (815) 842-1776, in McLean County call (309) 663-8306 and in Woodford County call
(309) 467-3789. You can learn more about 4-H by visiting our website at web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw or the Illinois
4-H website at www.4-h.uiuc.edu.