Consider 4-H participation in a gap year

There are different activities students can participate in during a gap year, and 4-H offers many resources and opportunities to make the most of their time off between life stages.

Each year, many students across the country are graduating from high school and moving on with life. Students are attending college or trade school, joining the armed forces or entering the workforce. Some students are also taking a gap year after their high school graduation.

What is a gap year?

Princeton Review defines a gap year as a year spent taking time off between life stages. It provides different activities during the time off for personal growth, and students typically take a gap year after high school before they enter college.

What can a student do during a gap year?

The National Association for College Admission Counseling lists and describes some activities students can participate in during a gap year. Some of these include traveling (organizations offer programs for travel or living abroad), participating in an internship, volunteering, academics (strengthening academic record for college entry) and working.

The 4-H program can assist students who are taking a gap year. 4-H is for youth ages 5-19. If students have graduated from high school and are still in the 4-H age range, they can participate in some of the activities 4-H has to offer. For students in Michigan, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has opportunities in leadership, citizenship and service. Students can participate in community service and service learning activities by assisting in a volunteer experience and future volunteer activities.

To assist with internships and a job opportunity during a gap year, Michigan 4-H Youth Development has opportunities and resources to assist students in building their skills in networking, writing resumes, building portfolios and interviewing. There are also activities and information in the Build Your Future curriculum which was authored by Michigan 4-H Youth Development staff.

What if a student is taking a gap year, but is too old to be a 4-H participant?

Volunteering is still another option in 4-H. Students can seek to develop a talent, trade or skill in areas like science, citizenship, healthy living and mentoring as a 4-H leader in a 4-H club or other 4-H delivery methods such as after-school programs or mentoring programs. According to the Michigan 4-H Club Development Guide, there are different type of volunteer roles for 4-H clubs such as an administrative leader, project leader, activity leader or resource leader. A mentor is another volunteer role for adults in Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring Programs. To become involved in any of the roles of a 4-H volunteer, all adults must participate in the Volunteer Selection Process.

If you’re a student or know a student who is or about to take a gap year, consider exploring the opportunities 4-H has to offer in assisting to make a gap year successful. Participating in 4-H is an option for students in their gap year. If you’re interested in participating in 4-H, contact your local MSU Extension office. If you’re in Michigan, go to Join 4-H to be a 4-H member or Becoming a 4-H Volunteer to begin the process to serve as a 4-H leader or mentor.

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