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More in Community
Help, humanity, home, ham?
REGION — "What do the four H's in 4-H really stand for?" one might ask. Help, humanity, home, ham?
Well, the answer is: Head, Heart, Hands and Health.
Since 4-H began more than 100 years ago, it has grown to become the nation’s largest youth development organization.
The 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative economy. That idea was the catalyst to begin the 4-H movement, and those values continue today.
The local 4-H program is a Youth Education Program of the University of Maine. According to the University of Wisconsin, 4-H Clubs help youth gain a sense of “belonging, independence, mastery and generosity,” through project work and community service activities.
Some people assume that in 4-H all you do is raise and show animals, but that is just one part of 4-H.
It is actually a program for kids ages 5 to 18 to get involved in many different projects, says Susan Jennings, extension educator for Oxford County 4-H.
“Today, more people understand that 4-H is much more than animals,” says Jennings.
“The National program areas are SET (Science, Engineering, Technology), Healthy Living (Nutrition, and Physical Health), Youth in Governance (Leadership) and Maine also focuses on Sustainable living/Environmental Education. We are working everyday to increase this new vision of 4-H," says Jennings.
In 4-H, there's a club for almost anything – to make cakes, to do arts and crafts, or scrapbooking – and you can join every one if you want to.
You can also start your own club – if you’re over 18 – or go to classes at the UMaine Cooperative Extension Office to learn things that other clubs do, like eraser carving or making things from Polymer clay.
There are a lot of opportunities in 4-H, like showing your work at the local fairs and learning new skills. 4-H participants have the option to visit other states for fun and educational activities, depending on age.
“It was very exciting being at the Fryeburg Fair for the kick off celebration of 100 years of Maine 4-H,” says Becky Mosley, Oxford County 4-H program aide.
“Our youth are doing a great job! People stopping by our 4H information booth had so many great memories and interesting stories to share about their own 4-H experiences.”
What do you do in 4-H?
“You make cake,” said Meredith Potter, a student at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. Her siblings were in a club when she was little. “I just know 4-H is really involved with the fairs and stuff.”
4-H is “a program of activities you do for fun,” said another OHCHS student, Pamela Moody.
You can do almost anything you want in 4-H – cook things, bake things, make things, build things, fix things, grow things, raise things and definitely learn things. You meet with the other members of your club and work on projects to showcase and get judged at the local fairs.
“4-H is a program that allows young people to pursue their passions in learning through hands-on experiential projects,” says Jennings. “Young people become empowered and more self-confident in 4-H. They learn at their own pace and through quality experiences.”
At the fair, you can get either a purple Judges Special ribbon, a blue ribbon, a white ribbon or a red ribbon. For each of the color ribbons you get a few dollars, usually you get $2 or $3 per ribbon.
4-H also gets you involved in the community in various ways. Some things clubs have done are fundraising at different community events, visiting nursing homes and bringing with them holiday cards and blankets they made, baking bread for Senior Companions, teaching skills to other kids, and a bottle drive for rescue horses.
For more information on 4-H and to get involved, visit www.4-h.org or the Cooperative Extension Office at 9 Olson Road in South Paris.