4-H youth complete community service projects to help communities

Youth in 4-H plan and conduct community service projects to benefit the community, country and world.

4-H has a rich history of completing projects to benefit the community. The 4-H pledge includes, “I pledge my hands to larger service for my club, my community, my country and my world.” Through 4-H, young people have the opportunity to design their own service learning based upon what they see is a need in their community. After pinpointing the need, 4-H’ers create a solution to that need, whether it is sewing pajamas for a local shelter or conducting a food drive for the local food bank. Besides meeting the needs of the community, 4-H’ers are learning valuable skills about designing a project and following it through to completion. In this way, 4-H community service projects are good examples of the Experiential Learning Model. The model’s five steps are listed below and discussed in detail in “Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H programming by Jodi Schultz, Michigan State University Extension educator. Her article lists the five specific steps:

  1. Experience – youth do an activity.
  2. Share – youth describe their experience, often we can use the five senses to elaborate on the experience.
  3. Process – youth relate the experience to life skills, goals and objectives.
  4. Generalize – youth make a connection between their experience and the world around them, they create relationships, find similarities and differences.
  5. Apply – youth apply what they learned throughout the experience to other situations or experiences in their lives; often this is described by using identified life skills.

The National 4-H website states that “4‑H members contribute hundreds of thousands of hours back to their community every year. Service is a hallmark of all 4‑H programs, teaching youth about the importance of giving back, improving our communities and developing innovative solutions to solve problems, large or small. 4‑H’ers learn skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, community engagement and build a sense of compassion, confidence and pride.”

On many different levels, 4-H community service projects help communities and provide valuable skills to youth in conducting programs and gaining a sense of community.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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