West Virginia youth have opportunities to make new friends, explore innovative and exciting subjects like robotics and photography, and learn new life skills with West Virginia University Extension Service’s statewide 4-H program. All they have to do is “join the club” by signing up during National 4-H Week, Oct. 5-11.
4-H is a free youth development program that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and teaches youth with a learn-by-doing approach. 4-H clubs are open to anyone ages of 9-21. In many areas, children as young as 5 can join a pre-4-H program called Cloverbuds. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.
“4-H is the original social network,” said Debbie McDonald, WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program director. “4-H’ers meet people from their local communities – or from across the state with State 4-H Camp – while learning new skills they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
The program, with the mantra “to make the best, better,” focuses on head, heart, hands and health. The overall goals are to develop life and leadership skills, build self-esteem and character, foster citizenship and service, and to teach healthy lifestyle habits.
For more than a century, 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. There are also 4-H out-of-school opportunities in subjects like photography, rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.
West Virginia 4-H’ers are building robots, helping the environment, exploring math and science, traveling to new places, getting healthy and becoming leaders in their communities.
A national study of the 4-H “learn by doing” approach shows 4-H’ers are nearly twice as likely to get better grades in school, and they and twice as likely to plan to go to college. The same study found that girls in 4-H are more than twice as likely to participate in science, engineering or computer technology programs as their peers.
CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service
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