June 18, 2012 -
The Florida 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach paired with volunteers to help kids learn the life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens. Recent studies show that kids spending time in youth programs like 4-H are less likely to be involved in high risk behaviors, have higher grades and better work habits. 4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health and is a youth development program that is available for youth ages 5 to 18 that focuses on science, engineering, technology, healthy living and citizenship.” According to Leon County Extension Agent, Marcus Boston, Jr., 4-H is the “largest youth serving organization that exists and we're the only youth organization that is tied to the University systems where they provide the research information we use for the project books."
Malek Dennard got involved with 4-H at the age of 8. He now hopes to be a role model for other kids involved in the program. He says, "every summer I go to 4-H camp Cherry Lake which , I serve as a counselor for kids ages 8 to 18 usually where we do a week of different activities, hiking , canoeing, swimming, study a lot of sciences, healthy lifestyles."
Boston states that there are 3 delivery methods at 4-H starting with the community clubs. Volunteers are recruited to serve as club leaders to help get kids involved. He says "the second one is school enrichment and that's where we provide resource material to teachers and then they implement the information or implement the program in their classroom." the third method is known as "special interest" which could include a one time day camp which might focus on a variety of different topics such as nutrition, horticulture or cooking. One of the gardens at the Leon County Extension office is maintained by the 4-H Horticulture Club. All vegetables produced will be donated to the local food bank.
Thanks to 4-H, Malek has gained confidence in himself and is proud of his accomplishments through the program. He admits he plans “to go to college and major in veterinary science and I plan to definitely stay tuned to 4-H, not just for myself but for other people planning to join 4-H, or people involved in 4-H right now because I think it's a great program."
There is no cost to join 4-H and is year round. Caring adults who would be interested in sharing an area of expertise with youth are always needed. For more information on 4-H programs log on to http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu or call (850) 606-5204. Leon County 4-H Extension is located at 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee, FL 32301.