By Marla Lowder
4-H & Youth Development Agent
The fair is always an exciting time for a lot of people. Everyone is excited to either display their work for the past year or go and see the work individuals have worked so hard to do.
It’s enjoyable to watch youth when they bring in their family and friends to show them their projects and how they did. The sense of pride they get is really fun to see, and 4-H youth are no different. They have worked hard to make that sewing project or raise that pig and are now ready to see how they did.
After people have walked through the fair and either watched this or seen the 4-H projects, I get the phone calls asking me all sorts of questions. I would like to take a minute to answer a few of those questions in advance for any of you who might be wondering.
For those of you who don’t know, the organization that became 4-H celebrated 100 years of serving people in 2002. 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth organization in the United States and is affiliated with the Cooperative Extension Service in each state. The program began in the U.S. and has spread to over 80 countries worldwide.
4-H is in big cities, small towns and rural areas. It doesn’t matter where you live, 4-H isn’t far away.
So what is 4-H? 4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.
What do the four H’s stand for? They are head, heart, hands and health, four elements in the 4-H pledge.
How does 4-H meet the needs of today’s youth? As an organization, 4-H focuses on four basic needs — belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. 4-H gives youth a safe environment to be a part of a group and work on projects of their interests to improve themselves. This can be part of a group or as an individual. 4-H also teaches about service and helping others, whether it is helping at the Pioneers Home as a group or mowing a neighbor’s lawn. 4-H members learn more than how to paint a picture.
Who is in charge of 4-H? At the state level, 4-H is sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service of University of Alaska Fairbanks. The people in charge locally are the district Extension agents. Funding for 4-H is provided through a partnership between the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
According to the “2017 National 4-H Council Annual Report,” 4-H has:
6 million youth members in the United States
500,000 adult and youth volunteers
25 million alumni
36 percent minority youth
900 clubs on military bases
Affiliations with 110 universities and Cooperative Extension systems
The report also says:
63 percent of youth said they want to pursue a job in science after participating in 4-H STEM programs.
95 percent of youth are more aware of foods they should eat daily after participating in a 4-H Healthy Living Program.
60 percent of teen leaders are more interested in pursuing a career in agriculture after completing the Healthy Spoils C.S.I. Challenge.
85 percent of participants in the Juntos 4-H program improved their grades in school after participating in the program.
So how can I become a 4-H member or volunteer?
Call the district Extension office at 474-1530 or a local 4-H leader if you know one. Talk to someone you know who belongs to 4-H. Find out if there is room in a club near you. If not, it’s easy to start a new club with some of your friends or other interested young people and one or two adults willing to help. We are always in need of more volunteers, all you need is the desire to share your knowledge.
To learn more about the 4-H program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, UAF Cooperative Extension Service, at 474-2427 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out our web page at www.alaska4h.org/fairbankstanana-district.html.