The Positive Impact of 4-H on Youth
Posted: October 24, 2012
4-H is easily recognized by its famous four-leafed clover; the timeless sign of 4-H. Each “H” represents a different facet of youth that 4-H positively impacts; head, heart, hands and health. Enriching children in all of these areas is the key to what has made 4-H such a successful and long-lived organization.
Pennsylvania 4-H is the youth component of Penn State University Extension, which disseminates research based information across the entire state. 4-H began as the result of an agricultural necessity (researchers teaching youth how to grow corn more efficiently) and still has many traditional programs such as livestock showing and sewing.
After its agriculturally based creation 4-H has grown and diversified the programs that it offers, just as society has grown and diversified. The organization now offers a collection of science based programs and projects ranging from rocketry to robotics. These programs help youth prepare themselves for opportunities in the science, engineering, math and technology fields. This array of program areas provide youth with quality hands on learning experiences and activities that increase social skills, cognitive ability, and confidence in youth.
Wholesome, hands-on learning experiences give 4-H members many amazing opportunities. Brooke Eastman, a recent graduate of Biglerville High School and 10 year member of the Adams County 4-H club wrote about her 4-H experience in her admissions essays to several of the nation’s most prestigious and competitive universities. She wrote:
“Individuals are often a product of or a contributor to an organization. Throughout my ten years in the 4-H program, I have witnessed my own transformation from a shy eight year-old who could not speak in public to a confident, mature eighteen year-old who is determined to achieve her goals and dreams. The combination of project-based learning, leadership development, community service, public speaking, and understanding of agriculture defines the 4-H organization, as well as it defines me. I have learned how to sew my own prom dress, bake a loaf of homemade bread, lead a club meeting, and speak to a board of directors. I have had the opportunity to attend Pennsylvania State Leadership Conferences, State Capital Days, State Achievement Days, and was selected to attend National 4-H Congress. These experiences led to new friendships, ideas, and enthusiasm for giving back. I am a product of 4-H, and I now contribute to make sure that other youth experience that same metamorphosis.”
Eastman was accepted into Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth amongst others. She will be attending Yale University in the fall as an Art History major.
4-H has been around for 100 years and with the help of volunteers and communities, it may well be thriving in another century. Parents of interested youth or adults looking to volunteer are encouraged to contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office in Adams County at 717-334-6271 or visit extension.psu.edu.