4-H Marks a Century, Looks to the Next

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To celebrate its 100th anniversary, 4-H has been holding a series of discussions nationwide about the future of youth work.

4-H has hosted the “National Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century” in communities in more than 1,500 counties and in every state. Run by local groups (such as the Brown County Partners for Youth, in Sleepy Eye, Minn.), the talks will culminate with a report to President George Bush during the 4-H national convention in Washington, D.C., Feb. 28 to March 3.

The report will recommend ways to improve youth work programs and help communities support youth. Based on the feedback from the conversations, the report will probably discuss building youth centers, creating guides for planning youth programs and creating and improving training curricula for youth development professionals.

4-H says 6.8 million youth are enrolled in 4-H groups in the United States, with more than 600,000 volunteer youth workers. The 4-H program was created to improve agricultural education for youth. Today, its projects cover citizenship; communications and expressive arts; consumer and family services; environmental education and earth science; healthy lifestyles education; personal development and leadership skills; plants and animals; and science and technology.

While 4-H primarily serves children (mostly in grades K-9) in small towns and rural areas, membership in recent years has become increasingly diverse and urban. The program reports that 10 percent of the youths are from farms, 35 percent from large cities and suburbs, and 55 percent from small towns and cities under 50,000.

Contact: www.4hcentennial.org.