The Times West Virginian

October 11, 2012

4-H dedicated to meeting the varied interests of the children

Times West Virginian

— Imagine an organization devoted to helping kids learn and grow.

It teaches them basic skills in finance and child care. It lets them explore their creativity in art. Even robotics and rocketry are common areas of study.

And through it all, the organization remains focused on one thing: youth development

Guess what? You don’t have to imagine it. It exists, and it’s called 4-H.

Club members, parents, organizers and volunteers across the country are celebrating the main components of 4-H — head, heart, hands and health — this week as part of National 4-H Week. Annually observed during the first full week of October, the week-long celebration is a chance to promote 4-H and what it stands for, as well as the benefits of joining a 4-H club.

On a local level, 4-H members are participating in various community activities in the county. Several clubs will host banquets and meetings this week as they gear up for next year, and the week will culminate Saturday with the second annual Marion County 4-H Service Day.

Although 4-H has long been associated with fun typically found down on the farm, Tina Cowger, West Virginia University Extension agent of 4-H Youth Development, explained that 4-H is so much more.

“We do have an agricultural background,” she said. “But we also have things like robotics, conservation, citizenship, art, rocketry, finance, cooking, child care and more. So whatever the interest of the child, we have that available in 4-H.”

Think about that for a minute. “Whatever the interest of the child.” It’s rare to find a club or group so dedicated to fulfilling each individual participant’s interest.

That dedication pays off in the long run. Studies suggest that kids who are involved with 4-H achieve higher grades in school, are more likely to attend college and pursue careers in science, engineering or computer technology, are more likely than peers to positively contribute to their communities and are less likely to participate in risky behaviors such as drug use.

Plus, they’re using the characteristics 4-H instills in its members. They use their heads by making smart decisions. They use their hearts by treating others with respect. They use their hands by recognizing the importance of community service and generosity. And they use their health by focusing on it in the physical, mental and spiritual aspects.

As Cowger explained, not only will 4-H members be able to take advantage of a wide range of activities, but they will meet people from all walks of life.

“The kids can see how they can connect with someone from different areas, and see that we are so much more the same than we are different all across the world,” Cowger said.

So it makes sense to be involved in 4-H.

We salute the members of Marion County’s 4-H clubs — Barrackville 4-H Club, Barrackville Cloverbuds, Cross Roads 4-H Club, Cross Roads Cloverbuds, Eldora 4-H Club,    Eldora Cloverbuds, Fairmont Shining Knights, Fairview 4-H Club,    Fairview Cloverbuds, Mannington 4-H Club, Mannington Cloverbuds, Metz 4-H Club, Monongah 4-H Club, Monongah Cloverbuds, Plum Run 4-H Club, Plum Run Cloverbuds, Winfield’s Right Combination and Winfield’s Right Combination Cloverbuds — and hope they realize just what impact they’re making, not only for their communities, but for their futures.