As the new school year begins, so do a number of 4-H Youth Development Program activities and opportunities. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers youth ages 5 to 19 throughout Nevada a variety of 4-H clubs and programs to participate in as extracurricular activities.
Extension's 4-H Program includes both urban and rural clubs spanning many interests, such as rocketry, robotics, shooting sports, cooking, raising and showing animals, and more. Clubs help youth develop skills in communications, leadership, citizenship and healthy living. Many clubs also enhance science, technology, engineering and math abilities.
"Parents and children look for unique learning opportunities," said Southern Nevada 4-H Program Manager Karen Best. "With 4-H, kids get to learn hands-on through trial and error, rather than just listening to people talk about these subjects. 4-H also offers opportunities to experience projects, especially in science, that kids don't always have access to because of expenses or where they live."
According to the "4-H Study of Positive Youth Development," a decade-long study completed by a team of researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University in Massachusetts, 4-H youth excel beyond their peers. 4-H members are:
- Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities;
- Two times more likely to be civically active;
- Two times more likely to make healthier choices;
- Two times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time;
- and 4-H girls are two-to-three times more likely to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.
This longitudinal study, the first of its kind, researched, defined and measured positive youth development. It began in 2002, surveying more than 7,000 adolescents with diverse backgrounds in 42 states. For measurement, the study broke down positive youth development into the "Five C's:" competence, confidence, character, connection and caring.
"These categories were also found to lead to the 'Sixth C:' youth contributions," said Carrie Stark, Cooperative Extension's statewide 4-H director.
4-H programs can be found nationwide, in urban neighborhoods, suburban schoolyards, and rural farming communities. Nationally, there are 611,800 volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 25 million alumni involved in the 4-H movement, supporting young people from elementary school through high school with programs that are designed to shape future leaders and innovators.
"Students involved in 4-H are better-prepared and better-engaged citizens," said Washoe County 4-H Program Manager Sarah Chvilicek. "Overall they're more civically engaged."
For more information or to learn more about local 4-H clubs and programs, contact your Cooperative Extension office or visit the 4-H Youth Development Program webpage.