What Michigan 4-H means to its members

Michigan 4-H members share their experience of being part of a youth development organization.

What does 4-H mean to you? 4-H is a learn-by-doing, educational program for youth. However, there are many ways to describe 4-H. Youth reflected on their 4-H experiences in the following ways:

Mentorship

  • “4-H means so much to me because it has taught me a lot of responsibility and leadership in the last 5 years. When I look at the leaders and superintendents they show me who I want to be.” – Anonymous
  • “I have learned to help others and to be a good role model especially to those who are disabled. I have learned to do new and exciting projects and activities. I have gained more confidence in relationships with others and communicating with them.” – Anonymous

Education

  • “ I learned how to make changes in my program and enjoyed helping my friends to complete their challenges.” – First-year 4-H after-school robotic member
  •  “ I like to work with my friends and seeing how these robots work.” – First-year 4-H after-school robotic member
  • “Through 4-H I have learned so many things I would never learn at school, such as nutrition of animals, how to take care of a sick animal, and how to market them.” – Hunter, first-year 4-H’er

Personal Growth

  • “I like the 4-H club because we get to do cool and fun things. 4-H does a lot for kids that helps build self-esteem, confidence and pride.” Kristie, first-year 4-H’er
  • “I like 4-H because it helped me learn not to be shy and quiet.” Lynn, third-year 4-H’er
  • “4-H is so much more than competing at the fair and showing my horses. In school, you never learn anything about being part of a group or being a member of an organization. 4-H has taught me how to be a member of a board, how to be an officer in an organization and how to run a meeting. I have learned how to speak up, give opinions and reasons, and have them valued and listened to.” – Sarah, ninth-year 4-H’er

Responsibility

  • “Through 4-H I have learned how to be a leader, responsible, and to be a team player.” – Anonymous
  • “4-H is an excellent learning experience. It is a great program for kids to stay out of trouble. 4-H is a big part of my life because it has taught me a lot about responsibility and it is a great way to make friends and meet new people. 4-H is a fun way to do work and learn about life down the road.” – Chuck, seventh-year 4-H’er
  • “4-H teaches you new skills to use in a career and in life in general. It teaches so many members the value of a dollar and responsibility. My 4-H experience will never be forgotten. It has a strong impact with my life. It has helped me find the career I am going to pursue and has assisted me in earning money for college.” – Casey, ninth-year 4-H’er

Often 4-H is described through the project areas we utilize to develop skills with members. But ask the 4-H members: they don’t talk about the projects or the show ring – they talk about relationships, communication, responsibility and personal growth. The sub headings used in this article were not what the members were asked to talk about, it is the common theme drawn from the responses the 4-H members gave when asked, “What Does 4-H mean to you?” As you can see, 4-H is more important than the project or the award.

Programs through Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development are transforming lives by helping youth to develop valuable skills to navigate through life.

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