Did you realize 4-H isn’t just for farm kids? While we’re not getting away from our rich heritage in helping rural communities with learning in agriculture, 4-H offers 60 different project selections to interest all youth ages 5-18.
Families will find STEM related projects such as robotics, computer programming and engineering in 4-H. They will also find cake decorating, photography, and global education.
4-H is the largest positive youth development program in our country. 4-H empowers youth to find their personal strengths and interests through hands-on project work. Project work could look like learning how to sew on a button or learning how to can tomatoes or hitting a bulls-eye with your bow and arrow. 4-H aims to teach youth essential life skills aiding in college and career readiness.
The 4-H year runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30. Families can begin to enroll in 4-H on Oct. 1. Christian County 4-H has annual membership dues of $30 ($20 for state dues and $10 in county dues). Christian County 4-H can also offer scholarships to families that might need it.
Christian County currently has eight clubs for families to choose from for the 2020 year:
- Billings County Liners (Billings)
- Blue Ribbon Bandits (Springfield)
- Clever Clovers (Clever)
- Deadeyes (Nixa)
- Horse Riding (to be determined)
- New Horizons (Sparta)
- Nixa Extreme Explorers (Nixa)
- Ozark Clover Kids (Ozark)
“When families first come to me, I try to find the club that would best fit their interest and their schedule at the same time, and a lot of the time it’s a club in a neighboring town,” Christian County 4-H Educator Jennifer Hancock said. “It is all about what works best for the family.”
Sometimes, there is not a club that fits the family’s needs or interests, so a new club is formed. To form a traditional community club, a group must gather at least five youth from three different families. There are still clubs that are considered “traditional” 4-H community clubs such as New Horizons in Sparta. Youth enroll in a club and then learn about their project throughout the 4-H year with a project leader. All Missouri 4-H volunteers go through a volunteer screening and training process, which includes a background check.
There is also a new kind of club that most people have not heard of called 4-H SPIN clubs. SPIN is an abbreviation for “special interest.” These are clubs for young people to learn about a particular project or interest such as computer coding or gardening. SPIN clubs meet only for a short period of time, a minimum of six hours of involvement for the students.
“The SPIN club model is really neat. It makes 4-H a lot more manageable for busy families. They are able to commit to those six hours rather than a whole year. I’m excited for our first official SPIN club coming this fall.” Hancock said. “Christian County 4-H will be offering a sewing SPIN club for boys and girls, all ages, for new and returning 4-H youth.”
In the summer, 4-H youth have the opportunity to share what they have learned about their projects through exhibiting their project work to the public at the Christian County County Fair, the Ozark Empire Fair and the Missouri State Fair. The youth also have opportunities for enjoying 4-H camps, energizer workshops, and day trips to places like the St. Louis Zoo or the Film Fest in Kansas City. There are many ways to grow through 4-H.
According to a longitudinal research study completed by Tufts University in 2010, youth involved in 4-H are four times more likely to give back to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier choices, and two times more likely to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities.
Missouri 4-H is University of Missouri Extension's youth development program. The 4-H program helps to create opportunities for young people to be contributing members of their community.
To learn how to get involved locally go to http://4h.missouri.edu. Find the group's Facebook page by searching the keyword “ChristianCo4H” to check out groups and activities. For more information on Christian County 4-H, contact Jennifer Hancock at the Christian County Extension office at (417) 581-3558 or firstname.lastname@example.org.