Mark Tassin, Merrill, Thomas A., Coreil, Paul D. | 9/29/2008 7:09:14 PM
News Release Distributed 09/29/08
Louisiana 4-H’ers will join others across the country in the celebration of National 4-H Week Oct. 5-11.
The main focus of the week is to celebrate the accomplishments of the young people, volunteer leaders and parents involved in 4-H Clubs – as well as to encourage others to become involved in the unique youth development program.
This year’s theme is “Keeping it Green.” It’s designed to raise awareness about environmental issues while getting young people involved in environmental projects that can make a positive difference in their communities.
“Encouraging young people to make a difference is what 4-H is about,” said Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. “For more than 100 years, Louisiana 4-H’ers have been doing just that – making a difference in their lives, the lives of their friends and families and the lives of others in their community.”
4-H is the nationwide youth development program of the nation’s land-grant universities and is operated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter. Louisiana 4-H is celebrating its 100th year of helping young people use their heads, hearts, hands and health for better living in their clubs, their communities and their world – the basis of the 4-H pledge.
Environmental issues are just one of the projects today’s 4-H’ers can tackle. The program involves them in educational endeavors ranging from computers to character education, livestock production and much more.
“4-H once was thought of as a program only for those who lived in rural areas, but that’s definitely not true these days,” said Dr. Mark Tassin, head of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Development Department. “Today’s 4-H program has as much to offer young people in cities as it does those in less-populated communities.”
That is demonstrated in 4-H enrollment numbers for Louisiana and the nation. Nationwide, 4-H is in every community across America, and 55 percent of its 6.5 million members live in cities, large towns and their suburbs. In Louisiana, 40 percent of 4-H’ers are in larger cities, towns and suburbs, while 15 percent live in smaller towns or other nonfarm settings and only 45 percent live on farms or in rural areas.
“There’s no question that 4-H has something for everyone,” Coreil said. “We know we are helping young people learn how to become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Today’s 4-H Club members learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through hands-on projects that involve science, engineering and technology, healthy living, citizenship and much more. Topics are as varied as rocketry, GPS mapping, public speaking, computer science, photography, nutrition and community service.
4-H’ers “learn by doing,” and 4-H week will be no exception. Special activities are planned by clubs across the state.
For example, St. Charles Parish 4-H’ers will end the week with a “4-H Fun Day” that will help them get to know one another better, as well as participate in workshops on such topics as archery and safety.
Ascension Parish 4-H’ers will take part in the National Science Experiment on “Helpful Hyrdrogels,” which stresses water conservation and using water wisely. Others will network with local leaders, provide appreciation events for teachers and volunteers, encourage their peers to get involved in community activities and much more.
“4-H helps Louisiana’s young people reach their full potential,” Coreil said, stressing that 4-H is the only youth development program directly connected to the technological advances and latest research of the universities. “It teaches them skills that will benefit them throughout their lives while it also shows them how to serve their communities – another important characteristic for future leaders.”
In addition to those facts, the experts also point to studies that show youth who participate in 4-H do better in school, are more motivated to help others, feel safe to try new things, achieve a sense of self-esteem and develop lasting friendships.
“We have no question that Louisiana’s 4-H members are some of the best young people in the state, and we think 4-H truly is teaching them how to ‘make the best better,’” Tassin said.
4-H is one of the largest youth development organizations in America with more than 6.5 million young people ages 5-19, at least a half-million volunteers and 60 million or more alumni. Louisiana had approximately 50,000 4-H Club members across the state in 2007-08, and another 196,000 took part in various educational activities offered through 4-H last year.
To learn more about the adventures and opportunities available though 4-H, visit www.lsuagcenter.com and click the kids, teens and 4-H link.