By: Taylor Whitney
WHAT IS 4-H?
4-H is a global youth development organization aimed at teaching youth the life skills they need to become responsible, caring, and productive citizens through a learn-by-doing approach and youth-adult partnerships. The four Hs stand for head, heart, hands, and health, which are essentially “target areas” that the program focuses on. The head portion is about learning to think critically, make decisions, and solve problems. The heart portion is geared towards learning about communication, empathy, and positive attitudes. The hands aspect is talking about the hands-on experiences like community service or in our personal 4-H projects and what we learn from those like teamwork and other marketable skills. The health part is about teaching youth the importance of a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Once you join a 4-H club, you will need to pick a project to do.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
My parents encouraged me to join at a really young age so I’ve just grown up with the program throughout the years. I’ve been with the same 4-H club since I first joined. A few years ago someone suggested I should also join Teen Leadership to broaden my 4-H experience a little, and that was probably one of the best things I did in my 4-H career.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED?
I joined 4-H as a Cloverbud when I was 5 so I’ve been involved 13 years.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE?
I am a 4-H member. I am in two of Lee County’s 4-H Clubs, Alva Livestock and Lee County Teen Leadership 4-H Club. I am the club president of both. As President, I am responsible for planning and running club meetings and activities, serving as a role model to younger members, and any other things that may arise. I have mentored younger members with their goat project, helping them learn things like grooming their goat and showmanship. I also do things beyond the club level, as recently I helped to host a Goat Clinic for local youth.
IS 4-H JUST ABOUT LIVESTOCK? WHAT OTHER PROJECTS ARE THERE?
Livestock can be a big part of 4-H, especially in Lee County, but there is so much more to 4-H than just that. 4-H is all about learning life skills and becoming leaders, which you can do through other projects than just livestock. There is an immense amount of 4-H projects and programs out there. Different states or counties have different things. The three main focus areas are healthy living, STEM, and Leadership. There’s projects for photography, cooking, space, gardening, and more! There are many kids who never do a livestock project in 4-H and they still have similar experiences with the program.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OR PURPOSE OF 4-H?
4-H believes in “learning by doing” and “to make the best better”. The goal of 4-H is to teach youth the life skills they need to become responsible, caring, and productive citizens through a learn-by-doing approach and youth-adult partnerships.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS OR MEMORIES AS A 4-HER?
My favorite 4-H memories have came from the overnight trips and events like 4-H University, Executive Board, and the Southern Region Teen Leadership Conference. It has also been fun to watch my projects change and develop over the years and see how much I’ve learned.
HAS THIS GROUP WON ANY AWARDS OR RECEIVED RECOGNITION?
Last year, my Teen Leadership group received an award for a top 5 Community Pride project. Community Pride is a state-wide service-learning grant program through 4-H that helps clubs to tackle issues in their own communities. We applied to do another Community Pride project this year and are waiting to see if we receive funding.
WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU DONE?
I’ve done projects in goats, horses, swine, beef breeding, small animal, citrus, mushrooms, mindfulness, leadership, photography, and community service.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL PROJECT?
My goats have definitely been my most successful project and the base of my 4-H journey. They were one of my first projects when I joined, and I have continued with it ever since. I now have a breeding herd of registered Pygmy goats, Rocking 3W Pygmies, that I show in both 4-H and National Pygmy Goat Association shows. Through this project I learned about responsibility, record keeping, communication, goal setting, and much more. I am soon going to be showing a couple goats and a market hog at the upcoming Ag Expo which I am excited about.
To learn more about 4-H and Rocking 3W Pygmies | Alva, FL, please visit: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089808185339.