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If you want to teach and nurture a child, a structured learning environment is almost always a must. If you live in the High Plains one of the best structured activities for youth remains 4-H.

Today’s 4-Her is continuing to learn the skills it will take for them to succeed later in life. The program has enthusiastically embraced hands-on learning and the 4-H STEM Challenge inspired youth to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Today that challenge makes a difference in rural and urban communities as a way to encourage tomorrow’s leaders to be comprehensive thinkers who can solve problems. Expect 4-H alumni to take the charge in helping to find a solution to the pandemic. Those alumni continue to take the lead in improving food production and safely distributing food to a hungry world.

Few adults at age 10, 11 or 12 would have thought this was possible. Model meetings and activities taught 4-Hers the importance of structure in organized events. Those activities, which included a strong dose of Robert’s Rules of Order, were used by 4-H leaders to teach generations of youth that those skills would serve them at a point in their lives when they might least suspect it. Those reinforced activities is perhaps why many 4-H alumni today can only shake their heads when they watch Congress, state legislatures or even county commissions become loggerheads to ideology rather than seeking solutions to real world problems. Today’s 4-Her can take the lead and remind public servants about the importance of service above self. After all, the four “Hs” stand for head, heart, hands and health with a motto of “To make the best better.” What a beautiful five-word sentence.

In this time of COVID-19, it is not easy to have youth gatherings and that is likely to be a trend we won’t be able to change in the short term. Starting a meeting by asking each one who is attending “What is your favorite dessert?” does not seem the same on a Zoom call but our hats off to clubs and organizers who are using technology to keep the 4-H experience alive and well.

That is why at HPJ we salute the many counties and communities and state fairs that encouraged 4-Hers to attend judging competitions even if they were closed to the public. Those 4-Hers have experiences they will never forget.

During this month, as youth and adult leaders rightfully take a bow, High Plains Journal is working on a campaign with the National 4-H Council and its 4-H partners to help tell the success story of the program and provide readers with an opportunity to participate with a special renewal offer. Monies will be earmarked to help the program that is vital to the HPJ’s multi-state coverage region. Watch for more details as this drive to help 4-H becomes a reality.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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