Youth can develop good character traits and life skills

When joining a 4-H club, youth learn more than just about specific projects. They develop life skills and character.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development provides opportunities for youth to learn life skills. 4-H offers many opportunities for youth to choose and learn from a variety of projects. By joining a 4-H club or getting involved in a 4-H activity, youth start learning life skills so they can become successful adults. The life skills model used by 4-H was developed by Iowa State University Extension.

When youth join a specific 4-H project, they may have an interest in that area already and want to learn more, or they just want to try something new. Not only are they developing certain life skills, they also are developing valuable character traits. Life skills for older youth can be decision-making, developing leadership skills, personal growth and yearly goals. For younger members, some life skills learned are social skills, teamwork and sharing. Another type of life skills learned is developing your character.

Character Counts!” is an important resource for volunteers to use when working with youth. The nonprofit Josephson Institute identifies six pillars of character in their “Character Counts!” education program: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Michigan 4-H has resources that can be used when teaching character education. Check out the Character Education webpage for more information.

Michigan 4-H also has programs and resources in character education when it comes to showing livestock. The resource used in teaching character education in the livestock area is called Showing Character, which was developed by Louisiana State University Extension. Showing Character is a series of hands-on learning activities for young people to teach them about character education when showing livestock projects.

For additional information on Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs, including life skills and character education, please visit the MSU Extension website.

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