This week, Oct. 6-12 is National 4-H Week, and counties across Michigan will be celebrating the youth who have made an impact in their communities and are stepping up to meet the challenges of a changing world.
Through 4-H, Michigan's youth are more prepared to do well in school, interested in science and technology, knowledgeable of the world outside their communities, and prepared to be tomorrow's leaders and entrepreneurs.
National 4-H Week focuses on this, and counties will participate in numerous activities that are continuing to shape future leaders and innovators.
Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four H's in 4-H. 4-H is one of America's largest informal education programs for boys and girls.
"4-H was established over 100 years ago and has grown to become the largest youth organization in the nation," said Nick Baumgart, 4-H Youth Program Coordinator for Dickinson and Iron counties. "Today, 4-H serves rural, suburban and urban youth in all counties in every state across the nation."
"In Dickinson County there are 112 youth members in 10 organized clubs," Baumgart said.
"Overall, 288 youth participated in a 4-H sponsored activity in Dickinson County since September of 2012. In Iron County, there are 93 youth members in the 10 organized clubs," he said. "Overall 195 youth participated in a 4-H sponsored activity in Iron County since September of 2012."
"It is not surprising to see 4-H youth participating in some amazing activities," he said. "Individually 4-H members are some of the brightest and successful youth in our community."
A 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, ongoing since 2002, has shown that compared to other, 4-H youth:
- Have higher educational achievement.
- Are more civically active.
- Show to have significantly lower drug, alcohol and cigarette use.
- Are 2.3 times more likely to exercise and be physically active.
- Are nearly two times more likely to go to college.
- Are more likely to pursue courses or a career in science, engineering or computer technology.
- In grade 11 are 3.3 times more likely to contribute to their communities.
"Becoming involved in 4-H has many benefits beyond these," Baumgart added. "The rewards of 4-H include increased positive social interaction, exposure to new opportunities, positive adult mentoring, access to innovative research and much more."
Currently, more than 5 million young people across the nation participate in 4-H science, engineering and technology programming in topics as varied as robotics, rocketry, wind power, GPS mapping, agricultural sciences, water quality and biofuel.
4-H is changing with the times to reflect our changing society and needs.
"Farming and animals continues to be a big part of 4-H, but that is not where it ends," Baumgart said. "There are numerous opportunities for youth and adults who do not own an animal or live in the country. The opportunities are limitless."
4-H not only asks youngsters to "make the best better," it gives them guidance to reach their goals.
4-H is conducted by the Cooperative Extension Service of the State Land-Grant Universities and the U.S. Department Agriculture.
As the nation's first land grant university, Michigan State University is the governing agent for 4-H in Michigan and a tremendous resource for state-of-the-art information.
Visit 4h.msue.msu.edu or 4-H.org for more information.
This week, congratulate a 4-H member for being involved and say thank you to a 4-H volunteer for helping make a difference in the life of a youth.
These people are making difference in our communities.
4-H youth are a living, breathing, culture-changing revolution for doing the right thing, breaking through obstacles and pushing the country forward by making a measurable difference right where they live.
Contact the 4-H MSUE for information about any program or to get involved. Please call the Dickinson office at 774-0363. or the Iron County office at 906-875-0604.