Kate Neeley, contributing writer
WHAT DO THE four “H” letters stand for in the name 4-H? If you were to guess “hogs, horses, heifers, and hounds,” you’d be leaving out a whole lot. Although 4-H has been known to be a great way for kids to raise livestock and train dogs to show at the fair every summer, you might be surprised to learn just how much more this multifaceted organization has to offer kids (and adults) in the community.
The true meaning of the 4 “H” letters are:
HEAD, HEART, HANDS and HEALTH And rightly so! Each member of 4-H develops his or her head, heart, hands, and health through an array of different activities and opportunities.
Kids who are part of 4-H can learn about anything from cooking, robotics, mountain biking, to sewing, creative writing, or even soap making. The possibilities are literally endless. 4-H is really a “learn-by-doing approach,” Alisha
Straatman, Cache County 4-H coordinator, said. “It’s basically anything that has to do with positive youth development.” Who doesn’t want their kids to develop in positive ways?
How does it work? What does being a part of 4-H look like? It can be raising a cow to show and auction off at the fair. It can also be a group of kids in a neighborhood who like __________ (insert any activity that fosters positive youth development), and an adult who has experience doing that thing, and they meet as often as every week to do fun things and learn more about it.
Simply put, it’s a systematic way to mentor and teach kids. One of the unique things about it is that the skills kids learn in 4-H are often different from traditional education in America. Unlike some organized activities through church and school, there aren’t specific badges or grading involved. The main reward is the knowledge and experience gained in the process.
Alisha’s early experience raising pigs has been a source of many skills that has helped her throughout her life. As an 8-year-old, her dad expressed his confidence in her that he thought she was capable of raising a pig to show at the fair. Knowing he trusted her to do this thing, she felt proud of herself and put in the effort to prove herself.
This involved work, budgeting for the pig’s food, caring for a living thing, and regular check-ins with her dad. In the end, she showed her pig at the fair, which takes courage and builds confidence. She also earned money from the livestock auction after it was over. Success can be so satisfying for a kid after many months of hard work and dedication.
However, when it comes to raising livestock, there isn’t always a blue ribbon for all the hard work, which gives kids experience dealing with disappointment and learning to try again. Grit can be a valuable characteristic. As hard as it can be for parents to allow their child to fail, this can really prepare young people for the responsibilities of adulthood.
Who can participate in 4-H? Anyone! If you have something you think would benefit the kids in your community, become a volunteer, form a club, and start meeting to create, learn, and grow. Know something about service, cake decorating, music, automotive repair, or painting and you would like to share it? Do it!
Families with any type of students can benefit from the 4-H community. “We are open to homeschoolers throughout the day, and we go into schools and help educate our youth,” Jenny Kearl, program coordinator for Cache Makers 4-H, said. She hopes that by exposing kids to these different areas of STEAM/ STEM (acronym for SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, ART, MATHEMATICS) it will help the youth to “find the spark in which field they
would like to explore as a hobby or career.” A variety of clubs offer an array of learning opportunities for your at-home, online, or in-person students.
With the changes brought on by Covid-19, 4-H is still doing many great things and making them happen in a safe way for the kids and the volunteers. Many clubs have done their activities in small groups with masks or outside where social distancing can be easier. Summer workshops can even be done online so kids can still participate from home.
Health has been at the forefront of the minds of so many during this unique time with the challenges of a worldwide pandemic. Although physical health has been the main focus, mental health is also important. More time at home and in front of screens can take a toll on development, and 4-H’s hands-on, heart-in activities to foster growth, creativity, and development are essential for the overall health of people of all ages. 4-H is an open door to make that happen for individuals and the community.
How can you get involved?
4-H CACHE COUNTY EXTENSION
Alisha Straatman, program coordinator (435) 213-0627 Starting September 1, 2020, enrollment will be available at: 4h.zsuite.org (for only $10 a year!).
CACHE MAKERS (STEAM) 4-H
Jenny Kearl, program coordinator (435) 915-6253
For a list of activities and workshops, visit: www.cachemakers.org
A “Maker Meetup” is open to the public and held the first Wednesday of each
month from 7 to 9 p.m. at Bridgerland Technology College West Campus, 1410 N
1000 W, Room 1910, Logan