Dallas Meringolo | UF/IFAS, Lake County Extension
4-H is the largest positive youth development program globally and is delivered by Cooperative Extension through more than 100 public universities. For more than 100 years, 4-H has provided experiences where kids learn by doing.
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In 4-H programs, youth complete hands-on projects in various areas like agriculture, Health, STEAM, and leadership under the guidance of adult volunteers. These projects are completed through 4-H clubs, after-school programs, residential camping, day camps, and workshops.
The green, four-leaf clover symbolizes 4-H utilizing four “H’s.” Have you ever wondered what the 4 “H’s” stand for? The 4 “H’s” are found in the pledge, which is recited at club meetings and county, state, and national programs.
“I pledge my Head to clearer thinking
My Heart to greater loyalty
My Hands to larger service
My Health to better living
For my club, community, country, and world.”
The first “H” stands for Head. 4-H’ers challenge themselves by making decisions individually and as a group. As a 4-H club, youth in 4-H make collective decisions on what role the club plays for 4-H families and the local community.
Individual participation in 4-H teaches youth to become actively engaged in their learning as they select their 4-H projects and make decisions to complete projects. By completing projects, 4-H’ers develop life skills such as higher-order thinking, decision making, and problem-solving.
The second “H” stands for Heart. 4-H’ers get opportunities to build lifelong friendships and contribute to their community by completing projects and using their Heart to give back to their community.
Youth learn to accept people who think differently during club meetings and programs while taking responsibility for their projects. As a club, youth participate in community service projects, and 4-H youth develop skills such as loyalty, caring for others, empathy, responsibility, and sharing.
The third “H” stands for Hands. As 4-H’ers complete projects, they learn skills they can use for the rest of their lives through hands-on experiences throughout the year. During projects, 4-H’ers learn new things and care for their projects.
These youth don’t just talk about their projects; they live it! 4-H helps members discover interests that can lead to careers and interests. Through hands-on learning experiences, 4-H’ers develop leadership, teamwork, self-motivation, and community service volunteering skills.
The fourth “H” stands for Health. 4-H encourages youth to make healthy choices such as growing food, cooking healthy meals, and participating in healthy extracurricular activities; being healthy means feeling good and doing your best to balance school, friends, and family.
Youth in 4-H understand what it takes to live a healthy life and become engaged in projects to spend their leisurely time through positive, meaningful experiences. 4-H focuses on developing healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, by teaching youth to manage feelings, build self-esteem, and build character.
It is obvious why 4-H is the leading positive youth development program as youth develop many life skills through the four “H’s” of 4-H. Youth learn to use their Head, Heart, Hands, and Health to better their club, community, country, and world.
For more information on Lake County 4-H, please contact Dallas Meringolo at [email protected]. The University of Florida is an equal opportunity institution.