4-H, Youth and You

— Written By Laura Grier and last updated by

by Laura Grier

4-H began as a way to improve the lives and fortunes of rural youth across the
country, and became the youth outreach arm of the Cooperative Extension Service.
4-H is a youth development organization with a national membership of over 6
million youth. 4-H is dedicated to helping cultivate the next generation of
leaders. According to recent research by Tufts University, 4-H youth are three times more likely to actively contribute to their communities and have higher educational achievement.

4-H looks different in every county of every state, but the purpose everywhere is to
develop life skills and form attitudes that enable young people to become self-
directing, productive, contributing members of society. The ability of young
people to reach their full potential is only possible with support from a community
that believes in their responsibility to encourage them in becoming successful
adults. The various local programs 4-H Youth Development provides are made possible by the generous support of the citizens and businesses of Richmond County. Michelle Parrish, Executive Director of the United Way in Richmond County, stated, “We are very fortunate to have 4-H in our community. 4-H inspires our youth by providing them with unique learning opportunities. The United Way investors are making a positive impact in our community.”

Richmond County 4-H has 5 delivery modes to connect these skills with
youth. They include:  School Enrichment, 4-H Clubs, Overnight Camps, 4-H Summer Fun, and After School Clubs.

SCHOOL ENRICHMENT – Richmond County 4-H currently works with RichmondCounty Schools on two major enrichment projects. These projects are meant to enhance instruction by adding hands-on science learning experiences to regular classroom instruction. An example is Embryology In the Classroom, for which 2nd grade educators are provided training, incubators, eggs, and curriculum resources to hatch a group of chicks in the classroom. Students participating in the project learn about the life cycle by recording temperature, candling to discover changes inside the egg, and observing while chicks hatch and interact. Hundreds of students participate in the program.

Another example is 4-H Science Adventures, for which all 5th graders in Richmond County travel to Millstone 4-H Camp to participate in a day of hands-on learning involving natural resources and the environment. Professionals in the field volunteer their time and expertise to serve as instructors. Again, hundreds of youth participate.

4-H CLUBS – 4-H clubs are the basis of many 4-H activities. Clubs are volunteer-led
and can be community- or interest-based. Youth aged 5-19 usually meet once a
month in a home, church or community center. Club members complete curriculum-based projects that promote building life skills. Members also participate in educational experiences at club meetings, contribute to service learning activities of various forms, compete in district competitions and train to be leaders.

4-H OVERNIGHT CAMPS – Camping has been shown to help youth develop
leadership, communication and social skills while learning outdoor safety and
environmental awareness in a safe environment. All North Carolina 4-H Camps are
American Camping Association accredited and provide youth with a safe place to
learn new skills and make new friends in a beautiful setting. At our own Camp Millstone, Richmond County youth can participate in horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, archery and many other activities.

4-H SUMMER FUN, Special Interest Projects are designed to fill special niches unique to Richmond County. Youth aged 5 to 19 can participate in these fun, safe classes conducted during the summer. Classes are taught by volunteer instructors and cover a wide range of topics. Older youth are trained to assist instructors and even teach some classes themselves.

4-H AFTER SCHOOL CLUBS – 4-H has seen a need in helping youth learn and grow
between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m., when many youth may be unsupervised. Richmond County 4-H Adventures Afterschool program is funded through a partnership between the Richmond County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, Richmond County 4-H, and Richmond County Government. The program aims to reduce further court involvement, build self-esteem, and to reduce disruptive behaviors at school.

Richmond County 4-H is funded through the generous donations of Richmond
County businesses such as United Way of Richmond County, Farm Bureau of
Richmond County and individuals, like you. 4-H would not be able to conduct the
listed programs without the support of the community. We appreciate your
assistance in celebrating the hard work and achievements of our young people.
Thank you for helping to “make the best, better!”

For more information on 4-H Youth Development please contact Catherine Shelley,
Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, at cgshelle@ncsu.edu or 910-997-8255, or visit
Richmond County, NC 4-H.

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