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It’s 4-H Week

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

National 4-H week starts Sunday and runs through Oct. 10.

It’s hard to imagine anyone in Iowa who doesn’t know a bit about 4-H, but this week is an excellent time to reflect on the important contribution this organization makes by helping young people develop skills and values that will serve them well for a lifetime.

Gov. Chet Culver in his proclamation calling for Iowa to be part of this observance took note that it has been more than a century since 4-H got its start in Iowa in 1901. Today it is the largest youth development program in the Hawkeye State. About one-quarter of the state’s young folks are involved in 4-H. Those 125,000 youthful participants from all 99 of the state’s counties are supported in their activities by more than 11,000 adult volunteers.

The important work 4-H performs isn’t limited to the Midwest. There are 6 million participants and 4-H has a presence in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries.

The member projects that are a key component of the 4-H program help young people develop important life skills that center on positive self-esteem, communications and decision making. Those who partake of the 4-H experience learn how to conceptualize a task and carry it through to successful conclusion. Many of the most successful members of our communities first began to hone their organizational and communications skills in 4-H.

Anyone who thinks 4-H is just for country kids hasn’t been paying attention. The myriad hands-on projects and educational opportunities it offers cover an impressive range. Some have the agricultural orientation that was once the organization’s focus but the options go well beyond that.

”Many projects and activities emphasize science, technology, leadership, citizenship, communication and the environment,” Chuck Morris, director of the Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development Program, said in a statement commending the governor for honoring 4-H.

The underlying theme of 4-H is captured succinctly in the organization’s motto: ”Make the best better.” Growth through learning, teamwork and communication are at the very core of 21st century 4-H.

During this celebratory week, take a few moments to commend 4-H’ers you know for being part of this worthy endeavor. Their investment of time in 4-H today will pay dividends far into the future both for them and the communities they call home. And if you know any adult 4-H volunteers, thank them for their efforts on behalf of an organization that makes every community where it exists a better place.

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