4-H Clubs have lasting impacts on youth
Youth today have an unprecedented array of sports, clubs, activities, lessons and entertainment options to choose from in their free time.
And for many youth, these activities will provide the foundation on which they develop their personalities and life skills.
For young people who choose to be part of a 4-H Club, research shows they are more likely to be educationally motivated, have higher self-esteem and communicate more maturely than their peers.
A 2003 study of 4-H alumni showed that club membership improved responsibility, confidence, leadership, project and presentation skills. Members also learned to handle competition, felt more at ease in relating to new people and developed good sportsmanship skills.
Subject matter skills taught in projects are the foundation for the youth development that occurs in 4-H. Learning to prepare meals, give a presentation, repair machinery, ride a horse and care for others are just a few of the skills taught in 4-H that can be of economic, social and/or personal value to youth in their future.
Youth and early adolescence is a time of rapid change in young people. 4-H Clubs have the opportunity to strengthen family ties and create good citizens.
4-H Clubs meet the basic needs of youth
The four H’s (head, heart, hands and health) represent four basic human needs: independence, belonging, generosity and mastery. Research indicates that youth whose basic needs are met in positive ways are likely to grow into active citizens and contributing members of their families and communities.
By combining project activities with opportunities to go to camp, publicly show their work, travel, host international youth and attend meetings and events at Cornell University, 4-H provides a framework on which young people can build self-confidence, responsibility and generosity.
Members of 4-H clubs are involved in a long-term relationship with caring adults, who help them learn new skills and grow in ways traditional educational experiences aren’t designed to do.
A positive 4-H Club experience can turn life around for an at-risk youth or bring a shy child out of their shell. It can also strengthen leadership skills or teach the importance of community service.
Clubs build assets
A landmark 1998 study by Cornell researchers showed that youth involved in 4-H Clubs in New York scored higher than other youth on a development asset test developed by the Search Institute of Minnesota. By questioning more than 100,000 youth, the Search Institute developed a list of 40 developmental assets necessary for kids to grow into healthy adults.
In the Cornell study of 3,200 youth, 4-H youth scored higher on all developmental assets than the youth in the Minnesota studies, even among youth involved in other similar activities. Some of the assets tested included educational aspiration, achievement motivation, the desire to help others, school, grades, self-esteem, decision-making and the ability to make friends.
To find a 4-H club in your area, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension Office.