4-H likes all the extras

Published 10:30 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

When you think of 4-H, you might think of cows, pigs, sheep, sewing, shop, and foods — the “traditional” 4-H project areas.

Outside these traditional areas is where the 4-H’ers are given the opportunity to plan, organize, execute and process activities designed just for them. Communications contest, Share-the-Fun and demonstrations are just three activities that our youth help plan, organize, participate in and reflect upon that greatly influence their experience within the 4-H program.

The communications contest is a day planned for 4-H’ers who enjoy storytelling, memorizing, information, giving speeches, drawing cartoons that tell a story and having that experience of talking, speaking, or acting in front of a panel of individuals that give us positive comments as well as constrictive criticism. All the 4-H’ers involved with the communications contest learn at a very young age that being creative is great and that getting feedback and using that feedback is even more important. The hope from this day is that the 4-H’ers will take what they learned and apply it to their everyday lives.

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In addition to the communications contest, we have an event called Share-the-Fun. This day is similar to a big talent show that showcases 4-H’ers’ talents. It is amazing when you get to watch a kindergarten 4-H member stand on a stage and sing a well-known song or a different kindergarten 4-H member stand on stage with a younger sibling and recite a poem that they memorized. Or, you just stand and watch an older 4-H member perform a professional dance in a professional costume.

Another extraordinary thing that comes from Share-the-Fun is when four younger teen 4-H’ers try to perform their well-rehearsed dance routine more than three times to malfunctioning music. It’s about gaining that experience in a safe environment that will give them the courage that they can do it again someday.

The third project area that I would like to highlight is the demonstration day. It is hard for younger youth to explain a process on how to do something and on top of doing that adding clarity to make it even better. The demonstration day participants learn how to explain a process from the beginning through to the end. They learn how to bring/make/have props to enhance their demonstration and the kids also learn how to talk in front of an audience that they do not know. The hope is that demonstration participants will take this information and apply it to their school work or in their lives as they develop and become future leaders.

By doing, experiencing and applying these experiences to 4-H’ers’ lives, these three areas are opportunities to make their 4-H experience even better. Encouraging our members to participate in activities like communications contest, Share-the-Fun and demonstrations will not only help them in their 4-H careers, but in their real lives as well. In 4-H, the kids have a chance to experience the activity, processing that activity and applying the message from the activity to their lives. 4-H does make a positive influence in the lives of its members.

If you would like more information on the Freeborn County 4-H program, call the Freeborn County Extension Office at 377-5660 or e-mail Amy at mads0150@umn.edu.

Amy Wadding is a 4-H program coordinator for Freeborn County.