4-H has come a long way from its rural roots – now encompassing projects that range from mathematics to mindfulness, robotics to rock climbing. But it's not about to toss out the projects that have built character and confidence in 4-H members since the program's inception more than 100 years ago.
Most people don't sew their own clothing these days, but fashion and textiles are not dying art forms. That was clear at the March 4-H Fashion Review in Fresno County. Dozens of 4-H members modeled their creations, which represented their sewing skills, financial smarts and creativity.
“The Fashion Revue project gives kids the opportunity to gain skills and also to show and compete with their final products,” said Tracy Newton, 4-H Youth Development program representative in Fresno County. “It brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Many 4-H members enjoy traditional sewing projects, in which they showcase sewing skills and the ability to coordinate an outfit. Participants can take on additional challenges, including the “box challenge,” which this year involved sewing one or more garments that contain three colors – red, white and blue – and items in the box, such as buttons, zippers and trim. Other challenges are the “make it mine challenge,” in which the 4-H participants alter a commercial pattern or make their own pattern; and the “retro/historical challenge,” in which the outfits they make are inspired by a pre-2000 design.
Twelve-year-old Atianna Marquez of Fairmont 4-H made a red, white and blue romper with buttons, buttonholes and bias tape from the “box.”
“This romper is special to Atianna because it is the first piece of clothing she has ever made,” Newton said. “She had fun learning how to make button holes, especially learning to cut the fabric with a seam ripper.”
Gabbie Hall of Fairmont 4-H, who has been sewing for three years, wanted a challenge. She selected a skirt pattern with box pleats in order to learn something new. The skirt is fully lined and has deep hidden pockets within the pleats.
“Gabbie complimented the skirt she made with her copper tank top to give her outfit a charming mix,” Newton said. “She plans on wearing this to dinner with her family or to special occasions.”
The most popular challenge at the Fresno County Fashion Revue in March was the consumer science challenge. The participants each put together outfits with the total cost not to exceed $40.
“This part of our fashion review teaches the participants they can be thrifty and stylish,” Newton said. “I like that many of them shop in consignment stores or thrift stores and see value in that. They are learning to appreciate the value of a dollar.”
Ella Hood of Fairmont 4-H started her search for an outfit at the Hinds Hospice Thrift Store. She found a white lace dress in her size for just $4.20. She splurged on a pair of fancy light pink dress shoes for $16.20, and found a necklace and earring set in light pink to complete the look.
“She will wear this proudly to church and dressy events,” Newton said.
Emmalee Balch of Fairmont 4-H modeled a trendy spring outfit she put together for $36.97. Balch purchased a new off-the-shoulder jumpsuit for $14.99 and natural brown high heel sandals for $17.99 at Ross. The outfit came together with a rose gold bangle bracelet and matching stud earrings that cost just $3.99.
Lone Star 4-H member Diana Flores used her great eye for yard sale bargains to put together a designer outfit for under $40. She modeled an Abercrombie and Fitch beige turtleneck paired with light blue Lucky Brand jeans. She completed the look with Lucky Brand riding boots and a pearl necklace with matching earrings to highlight the colors of the shirt.
“She loves wearing this outfit to school because it's within dress code and stylish,” Newton said.
Six-year-old Ashley McCann paired a black and white checkered sundress with white sandals. She accessorized her ensemble with a jeweled cat ear head band, dangle heart earrings, glittery silver choker and, to add a pop of color, lemon yellow sunglasses. The total came in at $33.66.
Following the fashion show, Newton handed out awards. Winners at the county level will have the opportunity to compete in the 2019 State 4-H Fashion Review June 1 in Olson Hall in Davis.
Hands-on crafts, farm animals and fresh organic produce brought the Santa Clara County community to the Martial Cottle Park Harvest Festival in San Jose Oct. 6. UC Cooperative Extension in Santa Clara County participated to share gardening information, composting basics and the fun of 4-H with children and families.
The UCCE 4-H program brought virtual reality goggles that allowed children to look in any direction for a view under the sea, complete with coral, fish and a sea turtle. Santa Clara County 4-H ambassador Alexa Russo used a tablet computer to interact with the children as they looked through the goggles, asking questions to engage them in the experience.
The goggles are just one way 4-H is seeking to light a spark of interest in youth. In clubs throughout the state, 4-H youth are taking part in fun computer science and engineering projects while learning about healthy living, citizenship and leadership.
Booth visitors intrigued by the goggles at the harvest festival were invited to participate in a free event at the Google Mountain View Campus called Code Your World. The activity was developed by 4-H, Google and West Virginia University Extension to teach children about computer science with games and interaction. The Oct. 13 event is being held to to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day.
"Code Your World is fun, hands-on and easy, even for people with no computer science experience," said Fe Moncloa, UC Cooperative Extension Youth Development advisor for Santa Clara County. "We opened Code Your World to all our 4-H members, and we're also encouraging kids who aren't members to come." Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, go to: http://ucanr.edu/nysdscc
For more information on Code Your World and the Youth Science Day event, see the Santa Clara County 4-H website.
- Author: Carolyn McMillan
Canoeing on a mountain lake, telling stories around a campfire, sleeping under the stars — it's the quintessential summer camp experience — and for thousands of California kids it's also their first introduction to UC's 4-H program.
And just like the popular program that teaches children to raise and care for animals, 4-H summer camp is as much about leadership training and science education as it is about making new friends and getting out in nature.
“So many of the kids live in the city and for a week they get to escape,” says Tiffany Marino, who joined the Monte Vista 4-H Club in Chino as an 8-year-old and has loved it ever since — especially summer weeks spent at Camp Seely near Lake Arrowhead, with the Los Angeles 4-H program.
The camp is set on a hill with cabins, a fire circle, a mess hall and lodge. There are volleyball and basketball courts, and a pool. “It's all surrounded by trees and greenery. It's so beautiful. It's this one week in summer where everything is OK,” Marino says.
Kids from all over Southern California come to this magical spot, making tight friendships and getting a breather from city life.
But the thing that really makes the camp special is not the setting, Marino said. It's that the teachers and counselors are themselves kids — high schoolers who spend months before camp working together to plan it out, developing educational programming and other fun activities for the week.
A growth experience for teens and campers alike
When summer comes, they put their plans into action, getting first-hand experience teaching classes, leading activities and ensuring that campers have a memorable time.
Adult volunteers keep an eye on things, but the teens themselves run the show, said UC Cooperative Extension's Keith Nathaniel, the Los Angeles county director & 4-H youth development advisor.
Along with archery, nature walks, swimming and other traditional camp activities, the teens hold science-based classes that challenge campers to work in teams to come up with solutions for things like how they would improvise a shelter to get out of bad weather.
“The teens come up with the activities,” says Nathaniel. “It's an applied experience where they get to use the leadership skills they've developed in a really meaningful way.”
Rose Clara and Connor Gusman, rising seniors at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, have both spent time as teen leaders with On the Wild Side, a 4-H camp that brings fourth through sixth graders from disadvantaged communities out for a weekend in the mountains near Nevada City.
The goal is to give campers a chance to explore and learn about the natural world in a way that is fun and builds confidence.
“The kids are so excited to be on a camp-out, but sometimes they are sort of scared too — for some of them, it's their first time away from home,” Clara said. “It's super cute to see how excited they are by everything. By the end of camp, they're hugging you and crying and they give you their name tag so you'll remember them.”
Clara helps her young campers quickly feel at home by playing an icebreaker, like the game where each person names a favorite thing — maybe a food or an animal — and everyone else who likes that same thing steps into the circle with them.
“It's a way to unite everyone,” Clara says.
‘You can inspire someone and cause a change'
Both she and Gusman discovered that they liked teaching and bonding with the kids so much that they went from being camp counselors to joining the program development committee, a team that chooses the curriculum and plans the whole camp.
Gusman even helped write a grant that secured $500 from the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to help off-set the cost of buses and meals for the campers.
“Most of the kids haven't been outside Sacramento. They haven't seen the stars or had a camp experience before,” Gusman said. “They always love the campfire and the songs.”
One of his biggest surprises was learning how much of an impact he could have as a teacher.
He used the small lake by the camp to show the kids how to assess water quality, including analyzing the prevalence of indicator species that can tell you if the water is clean and healthy.
“Going through the process of developing the lesson, I wasn't totally hooked until we were at camp. There was one really shy girl who on the first day said, ‘I don't like science.' Then at the end, she was like, ‘I really loved it and I'm going to take as many science classes as I can,'” Gusman said.
“I wasn't a pessimist before, but I also wasn't super positive that there was a magical moment when you could inspire someone and cause a change. The camp has shown me that you can do that. You can help other people grow to love science and the earth, and see them grow like that.”
Marianne Bird, the 4-H youth development advisor in Sacramento County who oversees 4-H On the Wild Side as part of her work with UC Cooperative Extension, said that teens are particularly effective as teachers.
“They have a rapport with the little kids that as adults we don't always have,” Bird said.
Both she and Nathaniel evaluate the camps once they end, and survey both participants and teen leaders about their experiences. The responses on both sides are overwhelmingly positive.
One of the questions they ask the teenage teachers is whether they feel that they've made a contribution to their community, Bird said.
“That's a big part of 4-H — citizenship. Not just voting, but being a part of your community and believing that you can make a difference on issues that are important to you.”
The proof comes in seeing how these young leaders grow and change from their experiences.
A lasting legacy
Rose Clara, for instance, knew she liked teaching before she started volunteering with 4-H, but the camp experience has given her a new passion for advocacy and political science. She has joined the California Association of Student Councils and used her newfound leadership skills to host a mental health awareness week at her school.
“I think that comes from 4-H — stepping up like that. I want to help people,” Clara said.
Marino, who as the youth director was in charge of the entire week at Camp Seely last year, says simply of 4-H:
“It has taught me so much and given me everything: leadership skills, people skills, role models.”
At 19, she has now reached that bittersweet moment where she has “aged out” of 4-H. But through its programs, she learned to raise and show animals, came to understand civics through trips to Sacramento, and developed her leadership skills and style.
A sophomore majoring in business at Cal Poly Pomona, 4-H has taught her that she can succeed.
“It's definitely given me lots of confidence and substance — I know that I am capable.”
This article courtesy of the UC Office of the President.
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- Author: Ricardo Vela
For more than 200 youngsters in California, including 45 Latinos, the last weekend of January was a unique experience, full of physical activities and workshops that will help them build a successful future. Under the theme “Be a leader, Be a hero,” they participated in the 4-H Youth Summit carried out in several California counties. The event showcased the efforts of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to increase the participation of young Latinos in its 4-H Youth Development Program.
“We are very excited that for the first time 45 Latino youths participated in the Youth Summit,” said Lupita Fabregas, 4-H assistant director for diversity and expansion.
The participating youths, ages 11 to 19, enjoyed hiking and other outdoor activities at the various 4-H camps. Among the camps were Mountain Center, located in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County; YMCA Camp Jones Gulch in La Honda, located in the Santa Cruz mountains in San Mateo County; and Wonder Valley Ranch in Sanger, located in Sierra Nevada Mountains in Fresno County.
The adolescents had the opportunity to learn skills to help them develop their potential in addition to other topics of interest.
“Participants also had the opportunity to learn about engineering design process and the importance of bees to the environment,” said Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, 4-H advisor in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The increase of Latino youth in these 4-H camps, is the result of an initiative that has been implemented within the last couple of years.
Seven California counties including Kern, Riverside, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Santa Barbara and Sonoma were selected to participate in a pilot model to increase the number of young Latinos participating in the 4-H program.
The model was designed to ensure that young people living in urban areas could receive the same benefits as those who have participated in 4-H since it was founded in 1902 in Ohio.
“The original goal was that young men and women learned leadership skills through interaction with farm animals and food conservation,” added Fabregas.
For the 21st century, 4-H has designed new methods for young people in rural communities, urban and suburban areas based on the same original principles – offering leadership skills to its participants.
"The 4-H participants learn about issues of global importance such as food security, climate change and sustainable energy. It also teaches them about other issues, such as childhood obesity, and basic finance," said Diaz-Carrasco, who has seen a considerable increase of Latino participants in the 4-H programs in the Inland Empire.
“It was hard, we had many challenges,” said Diaz-Carrasco, who works in a county that is 50 percent urban and its young population is almost 59 percent Latino. Lack of transportation, time and money were the biggest threats to the success of the pilot model.
In 2016, Diaz-Carrasco was selected to participate in UC ANR's Latino initiative, under the direction of Lupita Fabregas. The first step taken was to hire the first bilingual educator of the 4-H program and establish the first bilingual club in a community center in a heavily Latino populated part of the city of Riverside.
"These new models have had an impact on the program in the seven pilot counties," said Fabregas. Two years later, there are three bilingual clubs in the county.
The response from the Latino youth has exceeded expectations. In 2015, the California 4-H program worked with less than 1 percent of children in the state. By 2017, participation in the program grew 16 percent and the participation of Latino children increased 89 percent.
Parents of these young Latinos participating in the 4-H program are seeing positive changes in their kids. According to the parents, 4-H gives their kids an opportunity for social and personal interaction. “It enables young people to understand who they are and prepares them to choose what they are going to do with their life as adults,” said Sergio Sierra, whose children are participating in the 4-H program in Indio, California.
Studies have shown that young people participating in the 4-H program are 1.9 times more likely to get better grades in school and 2.1 times more likely to report being engaged in school activities.
California leads the country with more participants in the 4-H Latino Initiative than other states. In spite of the gains achieved, there is still more outreach to be done, Fabregas said.
4-H members in Santa Clara County will work with Google employees to develop computer science technical skills, digital fluency, creativity and problem solving skills in a new 10-week program made possible with a donation from the Silicon Valley internet search giant.
Youth participants, teen leaders and adult volunteers are now being recruited to take part in the 4-H Computer Science Career Pathway, a weekly series that begins Sept. 27. The pathway will translate abstract concepts into practical experiences the participants can use to explore the field of computer science. Fill out an online interest form to get more information.
“We are thrilled to begin our partnership with Google and prepare our youth for successful careers in any field they choose through this innovative program,” said Fe Moncloa, the UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development advisor in Santa Clara County.
The outreach will go beyond the 10 weekly sessions. During the first year, an estimated 700 youth in traditional 4-H community clubs, in after-school programs, and in programs offered by partnering community organizations will be touched by 4-H computer science. Booths will be set up at festivals and fairs to reach still more young people.
“There are many different opportunities for our youth to explore computer science,” Moncloa said.
The Santa Clara program is one of dozens funded through the National 4-H Council, which received a $1.5 million grant from Google to build skills youth need for the future. Santa Clara is the only California county involved.
“We don't know what the jobs of tomorrow will look like,” said Charlotte Smith of Google.org when the grant was announced. “Some of them might require computer science skills, but it's much more than that – problem solving, collaboration. We want to give kids as many kinds of tools as we can so they can succeed in any discipline and in any field.”
To reach underserved youth in Santa Clara County, 4-H will partner with two well-established community organizations. Youth Alliance, based in Hollister, provides innovative and culturally relevant services to local youth and families. Youth Alliance offers after-school programs for elementary and junior high school youth to give children a safe place to spend afternoons, get homework help and participate in cultural arts programs.
A second community partner is Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose, which assists families with a wide variety of needs, including after-school programs, housing, food, nutrition education, citizenship classes and English-as-a-second-language training.
Santa Clara County UC Cooperative Extension 4-H has formed a team to launch the 4-H Computer Science Career Pathway.
UCCE 4-H program representative Claudia Damiani will train college students to offer the computer science curriculum to young people in Youth Alliance and Sacred Heart Community Service programs.
Google employee and 4-H volunteer Curtis Ullerich will teach the computer science curriculum to other volunteers in Santa Clara County.
“Some people think computer science is limited to coding,” Moncloa said. “Curtis, the way he teaches, he presents computer science in a different way. Sure, coding is one element, but there is so much more.”
Fiona Reyes and Santiago Piva are 4-H Teen Leaders in this project. They will teach and mentor youth, and collaborate with Ullerich to extend the curricula to 4-H volunteers.