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It’s National 4-H Week!

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 3:30 p.m. CDT

Four-H is the largest youth group in the world. More than 60 million youth have belonged to 4-H during the organization’s 100-year history. Four-H clubs are accepting new members this month to grow that number even higher.

This week is National  4-H Week celebrating youth, families, communities and 4-H opportunities. Four-H contains the essential elements of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery (BIG-M) to make it a Positive Youth Development Program.

Four-H is for boys and girls ages 5-18 and is for everyone — not just for those who live on farms. There are several ways to participate in 4-H. Youth may join 4-H community clubs, coordinated by local adult volunteers who receive special training. Each club decides how often it meets, the location of its meetings and the activities held during the meetings. Members may select from over 100 different project areas to study while they build leadership, teamwork, cooperation, decision-making and communication skills.

Youth may instead choose to focus on a specific project area and join a club specifically related to that one project. Robotics, photography, gardening, visual arts and nutrition are just a few of the popular topics for special interest clubs. Bureau County 4-H also offers a Shooting Sports program in archery for youth ages 8-18 and shotgun for youth ages 10-18.

Volunteers are frequently identified as the backbone of any service-oriented organization. University of Illinois Extension is no exception. University of Illinois Extension-Bureau County and its 4-H program currently have hundreds of volunteers contributing to the success and expansion of the educational programs and services provided to the citizens of Bureau County. Volunteers are involved in helping to plan and deliver such programs as: 4-H programs, school enrichment opportunities, adult and youth educational workshops such as sewing and dog obedience training. Volunteers are required to complete the University of Illinois Extension’s volunteer screening process.

Other 4-H facts:

• Four-H is fun and educational!

• Four-H exposes youth to a variety of career possibilities.

• Four-H provides the necessary life skills that employers look for.

• More than 2,500 youth in Bureau County participate in a variety of 4-H programs during the program year.

• More than 600 adult and youth volunteers assist in the delivery of the Bureau County 4-H Program.

• Four-H builds confidence and self-esteem.

• Four-H develops leadership skills.

• Four-H is a family-oriented program.

• Four-H provides the opportunity for youth to feel a sense of belonging, develop independence, practice generosity and experience mastery.

• Some of the most popular 4-H projects in Bureau County include visual arts, food and nutrition, natural resources, photography, clothing and textiles, intercultural and animal projects. 4

• Four-H alumni include Rep. David Leitch, Neil Kastor, Johnny Carson, Orville Redenbacher, Reba McEntire and many, many more.

For more information or to volunteer or join the 4-H program, please contact the University of Illinois Extension at 815-875-2878 or stop by the office located at 850 Thompson St. (in the Becker Professional Suites Building), Princeton.

Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/blmp to contact a local 4-H club. “Like us” on Facebook at: Bureau/LaSalle/Marshall/Putnam 4-H to see all the fun activities 4-H has to offer to receive updates.

Breanne Gilligan is the youth development educator serving Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties. Gilligan can be reached by email at bngilli@illinois.edu or by phone at 815-875-2878.

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