Think 4-H is all about agriculture and farm animals? You are in for a BIG surprise! While 4-H clubs were first known as “corn clubs” for boys and “canning clubs” for girls, the program is now found in nearly every county in every state in the United States. 4-H is geared toward all young people, regardless of where they live or what background they have. The Cincinnati area is home to hundreds of 4-H clubs. There are clubs to fit the needs and interests of any child.
My own daughter, age 8, started attending 4-H meetings over three years ago. Each summer, she excitedly loads up art, cooking, and gardening projects and heads to the county fair. 4-H has given her a productive outlet for her interests. It has allowed her to create strong bonds with her fellow club members, who come from a variety of both urban and rural backgrounds.
What is 4-H?
4-H is a global, learn-by-doing education program for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture, and citizenship, in a positive environment. Youngsters in kindergarten through second grade join as Cloverbuds. Full project members must be at least 8 years old and in third grade. The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus: head, heart, hands, and health. 4-H projects include everything from cooking and nutrition to robotics, ecology, creative art, fishing, archery, sewing, engineering, photography and so much more!
On a personal level, 4-H has given my daughter a renewed sense of responsibility and focus. On those long, cold winter days, she spends hours in the kitchen, carefully testing recipes as she works on 4-H baking projects. She trials countless muffin and cookie recipes, pursuing her passion while learning new skills and abilities. Her accumulation of ribbons and rosettes during each fair week has given her confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
What are the benefits of 4-H?
A longitudinal study by Tufts University found that 4-H’ers are:
- Nearly 4 times more likely to make contributions to their community and be civilly active.
- Nearly 2 times more likely to likely to participate in Science, Engineering, and Computer Technology programs during out of school time.
From a parent perspective, 4-H has given our family many opportunities to support, encourage, and help our children learn. With other families in our club, we have enjoyed fishing trips, days at museums, baseball games, cook-outs, and made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Local Resources for 4-H
Most 4-H’ers join a club within the county in which they live. Most clubs meet once or twice per month all year long to work on projects, take field trips, and engage in community service and small group learning.
If you are interested in learning more about joining 4-H contact the local Ohio State Extension 4-H offices the county in which you reside. The Extension Professional will be able to suggest a club or activities that best meet your child’s needs and interest areas.