By Kimberly Williams and Lanette Hebert
Louisiana 4-H has a long, rich history spanning more than a century. As we move into the future, Louisiana 4-H is committed to being intentional about highlighting our youth and ensuring they are prepared to thrive. Through their experiences and the people they encounter in 4-H, youth can start to find their spark.
The 4-H Thriving Model, developed by Mary Arnold at Oregon State University and now adopted nationwide, defines sparks as skills, talents, interests and special qualities that provide joy, energy, purpose and direction in the life of students. These self-identified interests provide the ignition for youth to explore and thrive. The model predicts that youth who participate in 4-H programs with high-quality developmental contexts will thrive, and in turn, those youth achieve key developmental outcomes such as personal responsibility and a positive academic attitude.
“The 4-H Thriving Model exemplifies the concept of positive youth development,” said Todd Tarifa, LSU AgCenter 4-H department head. “The 4-H Thriving Model illustrates the effectiveness of 4-H programs by connecting high quality programs to the promotion of a young person’s social, emotional, and cognitive learning, and how it relates to positive youth development and long-term outcomes.”
“Encouraging a young person to find their spark, and giving them a sense of belonging, having caring relationships, and engaging them in meaningful learning opportunities is the strength of the 4-H program,” Tarifa said. “Giving young people a hopeful purpose leads to positive developmental outcomes, which ultimately creates productive individuals that give back to their communities. The 4-H Thriving Model is a true illustration of what is needed to build a sound youth development program.”
Abigail Toups, 11, of Lafayette Parish, enjoys expressing herself through art projects. Spark: Expressive Arts. Provided photo.
Abigail Hawkins, 17, of Pointe Coupee Parish, practices shooting sports. Spark: Shooting Sports. Provided photo.
Brody Seals, 15, of Concordia Parish, center, feeds a pygmy goat. Provided photo.
Addison Bounds, 15, of Red River Parish, shows her sister the best way to stand while shooting and explains how it will improve accuracy. Spark: Shooting Sports. Provided photos.
Lauren Poole, 17, of Winn Parish, packs gifts in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. This project is one of her favorite ways to serve her community. Spark: Community Service. Provided photos.
Luke Schulze, 14, of East Baton Rouge Parish, shoots a round of skeet at shotgun practice. Spark: Shooting Sports. Provided photo.
Finley McGill, 16, of Lafayette Parish, participates in the regional shoot in Port Allen. Spark: Shooting Sports.
Shaohannah Martin, 17, of Lafayette Parish, helps educate youth at AgMagic. Spark: Livestock.
Connection with Others
Goal Setting and Management
Openness to Challenge
Opportunity for All
Positive Academic Attitude