Implement the Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development in 4-H clubs – Part 6
Explore how to successfully promote and act out the seventh guiding principle of the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles.
Michigan 4-H has seven Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development. These principles help us plan quality programs for Michigan’s youth. The principles support volunteer leaders and parents in understanding how Michigan 4-H programs are developed.
Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles:
- Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
- Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
- Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
- Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
- Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
- Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
- Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.
This article will focus on the seventh principle: Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.
The 4-H Pledge mentions “my hands for larger service” as an ideal for members. An active 4-H club must give back to the community and individuals that support their learning efforts. Research has shown that 4-H’ers are 25 percent more likely to contribute to their communities than their peers.
Service to the community should be apparent as part of the club’s basic experience. Helping others is a hallmark of 4-H Clubs. A club may choose to set a goal of a certain number of community service projects in a year. A chart may be developed to tally service projects when completed. Engagement with those in need will challenge youth to make a difference by action steps.
Opportunities to give back to the community in meaningful ways through service activities should be part of every meeting. Brainstorm ways your club can serve others. Address local social issues such as hunger, illiteracy or homelessness. Determine how your club could work together with another community agency to focus on a local issue. Vote on the top ten to do each month, pick a date and do it. Afterward, talk about your experiences. Discuss with the club the benefits of serving others. These might include personal satisfaction, acquiring new skills, getting along better with those in the club and community, learning patience, planning service projects and coming into contact with many different people.
As 4-H members care about others and help their community become better, cleaner and safer, they exhibit citizenship through service. It is important that the club does service for the community, not themselves. These service activities should be publicized. Photos of service projects may be used to develop a club highlight video. Recognize the youth who serve; praise them in county newsletters or community news publications. Make service to others a key component of your 4-H club activities.
The Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles are a powerful tool to connect youth to 4-H members throughout the state. By incorporating the principles in the club structure, volunteers are assuring a better future for the young people in their club, and ultimately everyone in the community.