The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

October 7, 2013

Join the club: West Virginia 4-H clubs recruit new members

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia youths can connect with more than 88,000 of their peers by joining West Virginia University’s statewide 4-H program during National 4-H Week, Oct. 6-12.

4-H is a free youth development program that builds leadership skills, strengthens communities and emphasizes learning by doing. 4-H clubs are open to anyone between the ages of 9 and 21. In many areas, children as young as 5 can join a pre-4-H program called Cloverbuds. Older members can become active in any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.

“Lasting friendships can be formed outside of the world of cell phones and social media,” said Debbie McDonald, WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program director. “Local 4-H clubs provide a safe haven for meeting new friends.”

The program focuses on Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The overall goals are to develop life and leadership skills, build self-esteem and character, foster citizenship and service, and to teach healthy habits.

For more than a century, 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like photography, rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.

West Virginia 4-Hers are building robots, helping the environment, exploring math and science, traveling to new places, getting healthy and becoming leaders in their communities and beyond.

In fact, a national study of the 4-H “learn by doing” approach shows 4-Hers are nearly twice as likely to get better grades in school and twice as likely to plan to go to college. That same study found that girls in 4-H are more than twice as likely to participate in science, engineering or computer technology programs as their peers.

For information about 4-H opportunities in your community, contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service, or visit www.ext.wvu.edu.

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