Mark Tassin | 2/14/2017 2:59:21 PM
The 4-H program offers opportunities for youth to discover their inner passion through a diversity of high quality programs. As 4-H professionals and adult volunteers form partnerships with young people, amazing changes happen over time. These youth blossom like beautiful flowers and grow strong like the redwoods found in the forests of California. This transformation does not happen overnight, and although it may seem unintentional to those looking in from the outside, it is indeed an intentional process we in 4-H refer to as positive youth development.
The transformation is not met without challenges along the way. As we consider the obstacles facing many of our youth especially through adolescence, the 4-H program in Louisiana provides a safe place to not only express their differences but also find their niche for successes. While building a young person into a productive citizen, it is crucial to make certain they have real successes and learn how to deal with failures. Although competition plays a big part in many of our 4-H programs, learning how to deal with losing is as important as celebrating winning.
Where can you sit across a board table with nurses, doctors and hospital administrators as a teenager and have input that is valued? Where can you have the opportunity to travel across the United States and meet people from other parts this country? Where can you be exposed to careers that you may have never thought possible? Where can you learn biology through hands-on activities with livestock, wildlife and other animals? Where can you go from bullied to state president of the largest youth organization in Louisiana? The answer to all of these questions is 4-H in Louisiana. These are just a few examples of how the 4-H youth development program in Louisiana is transformational.
As we look toward the future for 4-H to remain as a premiere positive youth development organization, we must remember what we do well. The program has to continue to utilize a hands-on learning approach with the youth at the center of the experience. To remain relevant we must change our activities and approach as times change. The trademark of the 4-H program in Louisiana is we reach a diverse audience with a diversity of exciting programs in all corners of the state. Just as one of our famous cuisines, 4-H in Louisiana is like gumbo, it is a mixture of all types of ingredients most people would not think of putting together but when it is finished, the taste is exquisite just like the 4-H program here.
Mark Tassin is the LSU AgCenter associate vice president for 4-H and youth development.
Achievement awards winners visit LSU Tiger Stadium. Photo by Olivia McClure
During National Science Day on Oct. 5, 2016, these 4-H’ers learned about drones. Photo by Olivia McClure