With a new year comes new opportunities to change our lives. Little did I know my life would forever change the moment I walked into my first 4-H Club meeting 25 years ago.
As parents, role models, mentors and friends, we are always looking for programs and activities to keep youth involved and invested in our community. With dwindling youth outreach programs and the current economic state we face, free or low cost programs like 4-H are more important than ever.
The 4-H Youth Development Program is a non-formal education that is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to develop leadership and management skills, positive self-esteem, effective communication skills, a solid sense of personal responsibility, and the ability to make sound decisions.
The 4-H program is open to youth ages 5 to 19 and offers membership in positive peer groups, year-round community clubs, special-interest and short-term groups and school enrichment programs.
Since 2002, youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, along with a team of researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University has been conducting “The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development.”
This in-depth study has discovered that the structured learning encouragement and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve future life successes.
4-H members, regardless of their background, socio-economic status, race and gender, thrive through the health and safety education and experiences they receive through 4-H programming.
In fact, young people in 4-H are 3.4 times more likely to delay sexual activity by grade 12, they have shown to have had significantly lower drug, alcohol and cigarette use than their peers, and they are 2.3 times more likely to exercise and be physically active.
Not only does youth involved in the 4-H program excel socially, they have higher academic achievements. Young people in 4-H have reported better grades, higher levels of academic competence, and an elevated level of engagement at school.
4-H members are nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college and are more likely to pursue future courses or a career in science, engineering, or computer technology.
Citizenship is one of the pillars of the 4-H program, and according to the study 4-H youth are 3.4 times more likely to actively contribute to their communities when compared with youth who do not participate in 4-H.
The Valencia County 4-H Program prepares young people to step up to the challenges in our community. The life-skills learned in 4-H enable youth to become productive, well-informed, self-reliant responsible adults.
To “learn by doing” is fundamental to any sound educational program and is characteristic of the 4-H Youth Development Program. Informal education provided by the 4-H program enhances the basic values provided by the home, school, community and other youth-friendly environments. These fundamental values in 4-H address the personal qualities young people need to become productive citizens in the world today and tomorrow.
The Valencia County 4-H Program is currently enrolling new members for the 2018-19 program year. You can get more information on the Valencia County 4-H Youth Development Program by contacting the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 565-3002, or go to valenciaextension.nmsu.edu.
• 4-H Enrollment ends Jan. 15. Call 565-3002 today to get your kids registered.
• Kitchen Creations: Diabetes Cooking School, Wednesday, February 6, 13, 20 and 27, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., free. Peralta Methodist Church Community Education Building, 25 Wesley Rd., Peralta. RSVP required by Jan. 29. Call 565-3002.
• “Foot in the Door” Job Seeking/Re-Entry Program, Appointment/ongoing. (Free) If you’re re-entering the workforce or changing careers, the application and interview process can be grueling.
For assistance with updating your resume, improving application completion or sharpening your interview skills contact Laura for assistance.