October 5-11 is National 4-H Week, celebrated annually to recognize the significant role that the 4-H program plays in shaping the lives of youths.
In Vermont, nearly 1,700 young people, ages 8 to 18, take part in projects, activities and events as members of more than 100 University of Vermont Extension 4-H clubs. In addition, 4-H reaches more than 6,000 kids statewide through in-school enrichment and out-of-school programs that focus on everything from digital photography and computer science to robotics and healthy living.
To help celebrate National 4-H Week, many Vermont clubs will create window displays in local storefronts and businesses to showcase their project work. Weigh-ins for the Vermont 4-H Pumpkin Trial will take place on Oct. 11 at Tractor Supply Company (TSC) Stores throughout the state. The latter event coincides with the fall 4-H Paper Clover Campaign, Oct. 8-19, a cooperative effort of TSC stores and National 4-H to raise money to support local 4-H programs through the purchase of paper clovers at checkout.
Although 4-H got its start more than 100 years ago in Ohio with two youth ag clubs, the “Tomato Club” and the “Corn Growing Club,” over the years its focus has expanded to include more than just agricultural education. Project offerings range from traditional disciplines including agriculture, foods and nutrition, gardening and clothing to animal sciences, consumer education, rocketry, dog care and environmental science. At the core of 4-H project areas, however, is the development of both life and job skills such as teamwork, decision-making, healthy choices and more.
“Of the youth currently in the Vermont 4-H club program, 50 percent are involved in the equine project, 25 percent in dairy and the other 25 percent primarily in shooting sports and outdoor education, expressive arts, leadership and community service,” says State 4-H Program Director Sarah Kleinman. “Three other initiatives primarily funded through grants, focus activities on youth farm safety, support of military kids through Operation: Military Kids and 4-H programming that enhances resilience in families by improving communication skills and promoting healthy activities.”
Throughout October, many 4-H clubs will be enrolling new members as they gear up for the upcoming project year. It’s also an ideal time for 4-H alumni to reconnect with 4-H through social media (https://www.facebook.com/Vermont4H or on twitter @UVM4H) or support the next generation of 4-H’ers by becoming a 4-H volunteer. Kids interested in joining a club and former 4-H’ers should contact the State 4-H Office, toll-free at (800) 571-0668 or (802) 656-0311 for more information.