- Author: Mcircicillo@ucanr.edu
- Contact: Jennifer Bitker, (805) 234-5409, Jennifer@anddesignpro.com
4-H, the largest youth development program in the nation, is calling on all 4-H supporters to raise their hands to help bring 4-H to 10 million youth by 2025. Currently 4-H empowers nearly six million young people in every county across America, including 142,277 4-H'ers in California.
For more than 100 years, the 4-H impact on young people has been immeasurable. “Having experienced our programs first-hand, our supporters and alumni know best what a positive impact 4-H had on them growing up, which is why we're reaching out to them to support the next generation of true leaders,” said Mary Ciricillo, California 4-H Foundation Director.
“Whether they're running Fortune 100 companies, performing to sold-out crowds, leading community programs or volunteering to empower local youth, 4‑H supporters and alumni are the epitome of true leadership,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4‑H Council. “We now have the perfect opportunity to pay it forward by raising our hands for 4-H, ensuring that the next generation has the opportunity to benefit from the experience.”
Raise Your Hand
As part of the Raise Your Hand call to action (running April 1 – May 15), 4-H is asking the millions of 4‑H supporters and alumni across the nation, to ‘Raise Your Hand' and pay it forward in support of providing the hands-on learning that empowers kids across America.
Joining is easy – alumni & friends can go online to www.4-H.org/raiseyourhand, vote for your state, and fill in their details. Raising a hand in this way is a vote towards a $20,000, $10,000 or $5,000 award for the states with the most hands raised, including California. Then support the activation by tweeting, posting and sharing their #4HGrown experience, or support and tag fellow supporters and alumni by asking them to raise their hands for their state.
“4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn by doing, to grow from not only the encouragements brought by success, but also through challenges and failures, as these skills will help them to handle whatever life may throw their way,” explains Jennifer Nettles, Grammy-award winning musician, actress and 4‑H national spokesperson.
About California 4-H
4-H, the nation's largest youth development organization grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program promotes hands-on, experiential learning for all youth ages 5-19. Our 4-H programs are delivered locally through the County University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) offices. Find your county UCCE office. 4-H is offered in 57 out of 58 counties in California.
The joyful reunion of two 4-H children, Leia and Caroline Carrico, with their parents after spending 44 hours lost in the Humboldt County wilderness in early March has raised awareness about the benefits to youth involved in the UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program.
Established more than 100 years ago, UC Cooperative Extension launched 4-H to teach children research-based agriculture and rural living skills. Over time, it has evolved dramatically, reaching children in urban centers, inner cities, suburbs as well as rural communities with leadership opportunities, life skills, nutrition education and other information to help them grow into resilient adults.
The Carrico children, ages 5 and 8, had participated in a 4-H outdoor training training program. They lived in a rural area and were well acquainted with the redwood forest surrounding their home. Recalling lessons they learned, the sisters stayed in place when they realized they were lost – a key survival skill, said Yana Valachovic, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. There were more things they learned from 4-H project leader Justin Lehnert's teaching that helped them survive unscathed.
“Justin told them to leave signs. Searchers found granola bar wrappers and deep boot marks. They knew that they should shelter in a dry place,” Valachovic said. “They knew to keep positive and how to find safe drinking water without endangering themselves by drinking from a creek.”
The 4-H program in Humboldt County has been inundated with calls for a curriculum that can be used elsewhere to teach these valuable skills. The UC 4-H Youth Development advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, Dorina Espinoza, is working with Lehnert to develop a project sheet so the survival skills used by the Carrico sisters can be made available in 4-H and other settings to young people throughout the U.S.
The sisters' odyssey and its happy conclusion shows the hoped-for result of the research-based 4-H learning model, Espinoza said.
“The sisters are smart girls,” Espinoza said “They attribute their application of survival skills to family camping trips, movies about people who get lost and 4-H adventures. 4-H reinforced new or existing skills. We know kids learn with multiple exposures. 4-H is a hands-on approach to learning that other settings don't offer.”
In 4-H, children choose “projects” they are interested in. The projects are led by adult volunteers from the community.
“What's different about 4-H is we have adult volunteers who develop partnerships with youth. They partner in learning, leadership and decision making,” Espinoza said. “That's a beautiful part of 4-H.”
Lehnert is a 4-H parent and volunteer who operates a business in Humboldt centered on enjoying the outdoors.
“Justin brings years of personal and professional experience, having completed a Wilderness First Responder Course of the National Outdoor Leadership School. He studied outdoor recreation at Feather River College and has been an outdoor recreation enthusiast for years,” Espinoza said. “We are so very grateful to Justin for sharing his expertise with our 4-H community.”
Californians can find UC Cooperative Extension 4-H projects near them at http://4h.ucanr.edu.
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.
View a video about 4-H Summer Camp:/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>