Cloverbud programs Part 1: Providing a solid foundation for youth animal science programs

Cloverbud programs designed for youth ages 5 to 8 years-old can provide young people with a solid foundation in animal science projects.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development offers programming for younger youth, ages 5 to 8, to explore new opportunities and set a solid foundation for lifelong success. The 4-H Cloverbud program is designed to be noncompetitive, educational, success-oriented and activity-based, while centering on cooperative learning and safe, developmentally age-appropriate programming.

Through participation in these programs, Cloverbuds learn positive life skills such as social-interaction, self –confidence, self-care, self-direction, making choices and learning to learn. In the study Parents’ Perception of Life Skills Development in the 4-H Cloverbud Program, conducted by Ohio State University’s Theresa Ferrari, Carrie Hogue and Scott Scheer, parents were surveyed to explore perceptions of their child’s life skill development as well as benefits of the program and activities.

As a result of the study, Ohio State University Extension Specialist Scott Scheer has effectively outlined ten parameters for successful Cloverbud programs in Ohio that can help volunteers structure their Cloverbud programs to develop life skills in animal science programs. Due to program differences between states, not all parameters are applicable in Michigan 4-H programs. However, the following are and should be used by Michigan volunteers to improve Cloverbud programming. Programs should:

  1. Be based on activities.
  2. Be cooperative learning centered.
  3. Be non-competitive.
  4. Have developmentally age appropriate activities.
  5. Have activities that are safe for children.
  6. Have activities that are distinctly different from 9-19 year old programs.
  7. Utilize curricula that are success-oriented.
  8. Have animals and animal subject matter that contribute to Cloverbud objectives.
  9. Have activities that are fun, positive and focus on the five general life skills areas through the experiential learning cycle.

Cloverbuds present club leaders with a unique opportunity to foster a genuine interest in animal science while teaching skills that will last. A series of future articles will effectively dissect the parameters outlined above and give practical strategies for club leaders and parents to utilize within their 4-H clubs to develop life skills. Articles in this series include Part 2.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H animal science programs, please visit the 4-H website.

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