Developing a heart for giving back and helping others is one of the most important personal benefits youth can obtain through active involvement in a 4-H program. During this season of thanks , 4-H members all over the United States will put the third sentence of the 4-H pledge into action as they “pledge their hands to larger service” by planning and carrying out a multitude of community service activities to help families that are in need. Since its inception in the early 1900’s the 4-H program has place an emphasis on improving the community in which they live through the guidance and care of adult volunteers.
As we pause this week to celebrate the season of “Thanks” we must also remember to emphasize to our youth that the focus should not be on who can consume the most food, but instead to use the meal as a vehicle to connect with family and friends while enjoying their company. Adults and youth alike should take a pledge during the meal time that no one will post, text, or make a call during family time…but instead exercise some of the great communication skills they have learned in 4-H and get to know each other better. It’s amazing how much our families and friends don’t know about us even though we see them almost every day. Youth should also be encouraged to think of those that are less fortunate and seek out ways they can help those in need as a club, family or as an individual project. A great club or family game can be initiated that requires youth, friends and family members to write a list of all the things they are thankful for and provide fun prizes for the winners… which should be everyone that participates.
As a 4-H Youth Development Professional I am also grateful that the largest serving youth program in the world continues to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. Using the 4-H pledge as a guide I have shared just a few impacts below.
I pledge my head to clearer learning…”I’m thankful that through active participation in a variety of programs and activities youth are learning decision making skills that will help them in school and later in life as they develop into responsible adults”.
I pledge my heart to greater loyalty…” I’m grateful that continual 4-H club involvement provides youth an opportunity to build caring relationships with members of the club as well as the adult volunteer leaders.
I pledge my hands to larger service…I’m thankful that the community service projects that are carried out in each club entitles you to make someone’s life a little brighter.
I pledge my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world….I’m thankful that through their participation and completion of projects youth are learning what to put in their bodies to keep them healthy as well as what not to put in them.
Let’s continue to use 4-H as a vehicle to make our world better by taking time to invest in your future leaders of tomorrow…..our 4-H members of today. Help 4-H continue to grow by joining as a member or volunteer. Florida 4-H offers a wide variety of programs and volunteer roles to fit your skills, interests, and schedule. Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.