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Beyond the Farm: An Introduction to Today’s 4-H Club
What is 4-H?
4-H is a youth organization founded in the United States that has since spread worldwide. The four Hs stand for head, hands, heart, and health, a philosophy is reflected in the official pledge, much like Boy and Girl Scouts. Originally intended to encourage and teach skills that would come in handy on a farm, such as agriculture, homemaking, livestock, and so on, the organization is still often associated with raising animals, participation in county fairs, and rural areas.
Today, however, 4-H is much broader in scope, and focuses on promoting personal development in young people. The organization incorporates programs for students ages five through college level.
What do you do in 4-H?
Some schools offer 4-H activities through in-school extracurricular activities and afterschool programs. There are also many clubs outside of the school system in particular communities. Individual groups and programs often focus on certain activities, and the options available to you usually depend on what is available in your specific area. For instance, some groups still offer agriculture-related projects, but there is also a wide range of other options, such as STEM projects, healthy living, and citizenship programs. (To learn more about STEM-related activities, check out A Day in the Life of a STEM Major.)
Individual programs are generally centered around completing a particular project. A classic agricultural example is raising an animal to adulthood. Participants may also come together in regional, state, and national conferences. Some of these conferences relate to 4-H on the whole, like the National 4-H Congress, while others are specific to one 4-H activity. For instance, an activity-focused program or conference might revolve around working with horses.
What are the benefits of joining 4-H?
There are numerous benefits that come along with joining 4-H. To start, you will enjoy the general benefits that many extracurricular activities provide, such as personal development and a noteworthy addition to your college applications. Additionally, you will learn something new through a unique experience, explore your interests, and develop innovative skills outside the classroom. (Learn more about the importance of extracurricular activities in How to Choose the Right Extracurriculars in High School.)
4-H specifically fosters the development of important qualities like leadership, responsibility, and the ability to perform hard work. As we discuss in Your Resume Revamped: Securing Leadership Positions and Perfecting Your Extracurricular Profile, these are attributes admissions committees look for in their applicants.
Many 4-H groups offer opportunities for growth that may not be available in other clubs or activities in your school or area, and will give you the chance to quantify an activity you already enjoy doing. Because these groups offer the opportunity to participate in the construction of a unique project, you will learn how to develop new ideas and experiment with innovative ways of thinking.
You will also receive mentoring and support, which can guide you towards honing your interests and skills and help you achieve your goals in education and beyond. Mentorship can be extremely helpful for kids and teenagers to have as they develop their passions and directions in life.
For more information
To learn more about the organization and find specific details, visit the 4-H website.
For more information on developing leadership skills through extracurricular activities, check out some of our posts below:
Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Check out the CollegeVine Mentorship Program. Our mentors drive significant personal and professional development for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Combining mentorship with engaging content, insider strategies, and personalized analyses, our program provides students with the tools to succeed. As students learn from successful older peers, they develop confidence, autonomy, and critical thinking skills. The ultimate goal is for college admissions to just be the next step in series of successes driven by the student.