Kansas 4-H offering family-friendly activities
With a lot to see and do at the beginning of the new school year, a Kansas 4-H specialist reminds families the 4-H Welcome Mat is out--and all are welcome.
Why 4-H? Why now?
"4-H is a good fit for families because the entire family is welcome to participate," said Diane Mack, K-State Research and Extension 4-H area specialist in northeast Kansas.
With more than 35 projects, there's much to hold a child's interest and help he or she grow, she said.
According to Mack, 4-H projects cover a wide variety of interests, from entomology, geology, photography, and food and nutrition to buymanship (which teaches how to evaluate clothing purchases before buying and care for them afterwards to extend cost-per-wearing) and space technology.
While exploring different interests, 4-H projects and activities share similar structures, and focus on building life skills that may become the basis for a career or lifetime hobby or interest. Most also provide opportunities to practice leadership, citizenship, service and personal responsibility.
For example, 4-H members typically conduct project talks that help them become more confident in speaking before a group; most also learn how to lead a meeting, build a team and be a team player, Mack said.
Having fun is part of the process; so is learning about science and technology, said Mack. She reported findings from youth development scholar, Richard Lerner and a team at Tufts University, who worked with faculty at land-grant universities to conduct The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. Favorable findings for 4-H members include:
--2 times more likely to attend college, and more likely to choose careers that involve science and computer technology;
--2.3 times more likely to exercise and choose health-promoting physical activity; and
--3.4 times more likely to contribute to their community.
While Mack noted "4-H families' enthusiasm for the youth development effort is their best advertisement," there are opportunities to learn more about Kansas 4-H: Visit 4-H Centennial Hall any day during the Kansas State Fair, which opens Sept. 7 and continues through Sept. 16. See www.JoinKansas4-H.org, a website designed to match families interested in educational 4-H programs to local opportunities.