Youth learn life skills in 4-H
4-H members in this county are joining the six million youth across the country in celebrating National 4-H Week Oct. 7-13.
The 4-H youth development programs provide hands-on learning activities for youth in Illinois and throughout the country.
These youth programs focus on leadership, citizenship and life skills.
Every county in Illinois has a 4-H program which is operated through University of Illinois Extension.
The 4-H Club membership is open to youth, age 8 to 18. Children, age 5 to 7, may join the 4-H Cloverbud program.
There are several ways to participate in 4-H.
Youth may join 4-H Clubs, coordinated by local screened adult volunteers. Each club decides how often it meets, the location of its meetings and the activities held during the meeting. Members may select from dozens of project areas to study while they build leadership, teamwork, cooperation, decision-making and communication skills.
Youth may also choose to focus on a very specific project area and join a club specifically related to that one project, said Deanna Roby, University of Illinois Extension Educator. Robotics, photography, gardening, visual arts, and nutrition are just a few of the popular topics for special interest clubs.
"4-H is an interactive organization that includes service and special interest clubs that teach students lifelong skills, such as leadership, community service and how to create healthy relationships with people who have similar, as well as different, interests as yourself," said Madeline Cumbey, a Kendall County 4-H member. "4-H'ers learn how to participate as part of a team, while also learning how to excel as an individual. There is something for everyone in 4-H, whether it is STEM, art, or agriculture, and anyone can pursue their passion in 4-H."
One may also participate in 4-H through short-term projects held during school or at after-school youth organizations. Some of these popular groups teach youth about caring for the environment, preparing for a career, making healthy choices or other priority issues which build a person's life skills.
"4-H is somewhere outside of school to meet awesome people and learn new skills in a supportive environment," said DuPage County 4-H'er Yirenny Cordero, who has been part of 4-H for seven years.
Kane County 4-H member Megan Baker added, "In 4-H, I have learned how to be responsible and get things done on time."
4-H youth development programs provide opportunities for youth to feel a sense of belonging, develop independence, practice generosity, and experience mastery.
A 2018 survey of local 4-H members found that as a result of their 4-H experience:
• 94 percent report having a plan for reaching their goals;
• 95 percent say they learned things to make a difference in their community;
• 96 percent say they can listen well to others;
• 97 percent say they are willing to consider ideas of others, even if they are not the same;
• 97 percent feel comfortable making their own decisions;
• 95 percent say they can explain their decisions to others;
• 98 percent feel they have talents to share with others;
• 85 percent feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with others;
• 96 percent say they can resolve differences with others in positive ways;
• 84 percent have gained leadership responsibilities;
• 83 percent say they are confident speaking in front of others;
• 95 percent feel connected to a caring adult who is not their parent.
To learn more about 4-H in DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties and enroll your child in a local club, contact the University of Illinois Extension office in your county or visit go.illinois.edu/info4Hdkk.