AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – If you are a young person living in Alabama, 4-H has something for you! For more than 100 years, the program has helped youth develop into resourceful citizens and responsible leaders.
What is 4-H?
Alabama 4-H is the youth development and education program of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The 4-H motto is, “To Make the Best Better”, which is exactly what the organization strives to do. Extension specialists and agents work to develop life skills and provide educational programs for youth.
“4-H is a great youth development organization for young people ages 9 through 18,” said Joy Scott, an Alabama Extension 4-H specialist. “It offers many different programs including activities involving livestock, rockets, drones, leadership, citizenship and healthy living.”
4-H values individuality, skills, talents and interests. Members have the opportunity to participate in numerous activities that promote creativity, critical thinking, leadership, citizenship and relationship building. It also encourages young people to step out of their comfort zones.
“4-H gives them (members) opportunities to breakout of their shell and gain leadership skills through various, diverse programs,” Scott said.
Clubs are open to young people ages 9 to 18. Members can join and/or start clubs that spark their interests. Children ages 5 to 8 can participate in Cloverbuds. Members do not pay dues, however, there are exceptions if a group participates in special projects. In most cases, volunteers run the club but 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agents help guide them (4-H FREA).
There are many different types of 4-H clubs that cater to just about any group. Some of these clubs include:
- Neighborhood Clubs
- Community Clubs
- Special Interest or Project Clubs
- Community Service Clubs
- Home School Groups
- Virtual Clubs
The most popular clubs are basic, community and special interest clubs. The basic and community clubs involve families and youth in the same neighborhood or nearby community. These clubs have activities that interest a broad spectrum of people. Special interest clubs are becoming more popular. Members can participate in specialized activities such as RiverKids, archery and the 4-H Rabbit Project.
The process of starting a club is easy. The first step people must do to start a club is to reach out to their local 4-H FREA. These agents can guide a group to developing a club. To obtain a charter, the following criteria must be met:
- must have five or more members
- have one or more adult leaders (21 and over)
- develop club rules and identify initial areas of club interests
- elect officers
- decide on an official club or group name
If 4-H is something that interests you or your child, but starting a club is not an option, look for established 4-H clubs near you. If you want to join or find out more about 4-H, contact your county Extension office.