June 23, 2008

Developing Good Habits in 4-H

By Eric Yuan, 4-H Youth Mentor

It is important for every individual to develop healthy habits within their lifestyle. People are full of habits, both good and bad. However, it is important that the good habits outnumber the bad habits and that the bad habits do not have an adverse effect on one’s life. The article “Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Developing Good Habits” by Scott Young, points out that most of life is habitual, and that people always tend to repeat things that they have previously done or patterns of behavior that they have expressed before. Bad habits can often be hard to break and it always seems that good habits need to be forced. In 4-H, however, opportunities are readily available to develop good habits in strategic and subtle ways. The article by Scott Young emphasizes the fact that habits must be sufficiently conditioned over an extended period of time before it becomes a natural behavior for someone. Youth not only have the opportunity to develop good habits through participation in 4-H Clubs, they also learn valuable life skills. Youth who participate in 4-H Clubs are continuously conditioned in a variety of areas that instill healthy habits. 4-H youth master these habits and then apply what was learned to other aspects of their lives.

Youth who participate in 4-H will develop invaluable habits that will benefit them later in life. One of those experiences is the peer-to-peer interaction participants are exposed to. 4-H youth learn to work as a team with their club members, discussion ideas and opinions, and listen to others within the group. Positive habits developed through the peer-to-peer interaction will certainly benefit these youth in many future endeavors including school, socially, and especially in their future careers.

As a youth continues their 4-H experience, other opportunities are offered that allows for healthy habits to be developed. They are responsible for completing project books, attending club meetings, and participating in other club activities. The repetition of these ongoing experiences helps to form habits of time management, follow through, commitment, and giving back to the community.

The habits developed undoubtedly carry over from youth into adulthood. According to a study conducted by, youth who volunteer are more likely to continue to volunteer as adults and are more likely to donate a portion of their annual income to charities. Furthermore, The RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas at Austin performed a noteworthy survey in 2001 and 2002 about college students' volunteer experiences. Included in the study were both volunteer habits and motivations. Out of the 1,514 university students, 76 percent who volunteered during high school continued to volunteer during college in the year of the survey. (RGK, 2002) Referring to the ideological motivators, 80 percent of the total number of students that volunteered in the previous year did so because they felt it was their "civic duty."

Clearly the good habits that youth develop during their time in 4-H can influence their future. 4-H not only helps youth acquire good habits that will build character and increase independence, but it also molds youth into responsible and able adults that will continue to have a beneficial impact on their community.


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