West Virginia youths can join more than 85,000 of their peers in learning robotics, initiating community service projects, gaining leadership skills and more by signing up for the West Virginia 4-H Youth Development program during National 4-H Week, held Oct. 2 to 8.
West Virginia 4-H is a free youth development program of the West Virginia University Extension Service that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and emphasizes a “learn by doing” approach to education.
Anyone between the ages of 5 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission. Younger kids who are interested in the practices of 4-H can start at age 5 in the Cloverbud program, which focuses more on fun and social activities that set the stage for future learning. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.
While 4-H programs of the past have focused on�agriculture and farming, today’s 4-H programs are more diverse, exposing kids to concepts in science, engineering, technology, citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Club members may also learn about higher education opportunities and even be eligible for scholarships given by the�WVU�Extension Service.
According to Brent Clark, WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program director, 4-H is an opportunity for those in the Mountain State to join an organization that is helping to empower youths to become true leaders within their communities.
“Our 4-H motto is to ‘make the best better,’ and that’s just what our members do,” Clark said. “Many members of our West Virginia 4-H programs have the confidence to spearhead their own service activities within their neighborhoods, to compete and present projects at national events and to step outside of their comfort zones to learn new skills every day—they take the resources given to them by 4-H programs and use it to develop into true leaders and catalysts of change.”
The program focuses on developing leadership skills by building self-esteem and character, fostering citizenship and teaching healthy habits.
A national study of the “learn by doing” approach shows that on average, 4-H’ers achieve higher grades in school, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors associated with young adulthood, and are more likely to pursue careers in science, engineering or computer technology.
In summer camps and programs across the state, West Virginia 4-H’ers are building robots, helping the environment, exploring math and science, traveling around the globe and fostering healthy lifestyles.
“We recommend any youth looking to join a network of supportive peers and volunteers to join our West Virginia 4-H programs,” said Clark. “In its truest form, West Virginia 4-H is a large family dedicated to leaving a lasting and positive effect on the world around us.”
For more information on 4-H opportunities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service or visit www.ext.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service, Writer/Editor
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