4-H community service: Youth learn to help themselves and others

Michigan 4-H programs provide opportunities for youth to learn from and experience civic engagement.

Each fall, 4-H clubs gear up for the new 4-H year. According to the Michigan 4-H Youth Development website there are 236,400 young people in 4-H – and the number keeps growing! Why? Ask the young people and they will most likely say because it is fun! Ask adults and they will say because it teaches young people about community … and it’s fun! There are 26,400 young people involved in Citizenship and civic education programs and projects.

A young Branch County 4-H member wrote this essay about 4-H and her 4-H community. It illustrates the fact that young people are bolstered by an “extra” community. She writes:

“To me the power of 4-H is community. The tradition of 4-H is about family, learning and helping others. It’s not about animals, crafts or prizes, it’s all about the people. The people are what keep this tradition alive. The community comes together to have fun and help each other; 4-H is a strong family.

Our 4-H community helps many people. We have helped our neighbors, sick children, elderly and those in need. We try to be there for people and our 4-H family when they need it most. Even the adults who were 4-H members help the new, younger members. They help us with advice on our projects.

My 4-H club has donated many things to people in need and going through a hard time. We have made blankets for the children’s floor at the Coldwater Hospital. We have donated food to the Quincy food pantry. We have collected coats, made gift boxes for soldiers and donated items to the Women’s Shelter. I have learned that helping others not only helps them, but it makes me feel good. I love connecting with other people and making friends.

4-H has taught me the joy of helping others. I have made many friends through not just the fair, but also during the community service projects our club has done. I have learned that when an idea seems hard for me to do alone, our club can do much more. My sister says the friends I make in 4-H will be with me for the rest of my life, through the good and the bad. I think she is right.

By doing nice things for others you meet people and gain skills. You make more friends that can help you help even more people. 4-H is a wonderful and fun experience. I love 4-H for the crafts and animals, but even more for the people. To me 4-H brings people together.”

This insightful essay was written by 4-H’er Allison Shilling, 12 years old and in the seventh grade. It highlights many ways that young people benefit from 4-H written by a young person experiencing 4-H.

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