October 11, 2010

National 4-H Week

10/11/10 |
Jean Rogalsky, 4-H Agent, Pinellas County Extension

October 3-9 is National 4-H Week and the perfect time to look at the state of 4-H today.

4-H is alive and well in Pinellas County, the state of Florida, and throughout the United States. Nationally, there are six million youth involved in 4-H. These youth live in urban and suburban neighborhoods, as well as rural communities. The 4-H program continues to thrive and grow in large part due to 540,000 volunteers who lend their experience and expertise to make a difference in a child’s life.

In Florida, there are over 244,000 youth participating in 4-H activities with 15,842 adult volunteers. 4-H youth participated in over 306,000 projects including public speaking, robotics, environmental education, theater arts, and leadership.

In Pinellas County, youth participate in 4-H community clubs, 4-H afterschool clubs, and 4-H partnership schools. There are 22 community clubs and five afterschool clubs with over 400 members. The grades with the highest number of 4-H members are the 5th and 6th grades. In the community clubs, the most popular projects are horse, gardening, and dog. The afterschool clubs focus on cooking, performing arts, and photography. The project choices for all 4-H members range from Aerospace to Workforce Preparation. There are approximately 80 adult volunteers working with the club program, in addition to the episodic volunteers who may judge or help with certain events.

To showcase the positive outcomes of 4-H, whether the youth are involved in the traditional agricultural projects or the newer urban program projects, here are the results of a comprehensive research project. Tufts University released a study in 2008 called the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. This research began in 2001 and has surveyed over 5,000 youth in 34 states. The results show youth engaged with 4-H are:
  • 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families, themselves, and their communities
  • Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school
  • More likely to see themselves going to college
  • 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors
In the 2008 data collection, the researchers added questions regarding science, engineering and computer technology interests and attitudes. They surveyed 1,309 4-H participants and 788 non-4-H participants in the10th grade. Key findings show that 4 H youth are more likely to:

  • Participate in programs science, engineering and computer technology programs
  • Perform better in subjects related to science compared to their classmates
  • Plan to pursue careers in science
  • Have higher levels of female involvement in science programs 
4-H can consistently produce these outcomes through a variety of delivery methods and project areas because it is the goal of the national, state, and county 4-H programs to ensure all participants in 4-H experience the Essential Elements of 4-H youth development. They are:
  • Belonging – to have a sense of connection and relationship with a caring adult
  • Mastery- to experience success in meeting challenges and building self-confidence
  • Independence – to know one can influence people and events through decision making
  • Generosity – to have a connection to the community and knowing one’s life has purpose

Those of you who were 4-H members as children may want to think back and find how your 4-H memories fit into the Essential Elements. Then think about how 4-H fits into your life today. 

For more information on 4-H research and the Tufts study:

To learn more about the Florida 4-H Program:

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