4-H prepares youth for the challenges of life

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – Winnebago County youth are joining the more than 6 million 4-H members across the nation in celebration of National 4-H Week Oct. 4-10.

Last year, 375 young people in Winnebago County were involved in 4-H community clubs through which they learned about careers, leadership and citizenship. The youth members receive guidance and mentorship from 200 adult leaders and volunteers. Another 150 youth were involved in 4-H through school, after school and community-partner organizations and programs.

”4-H’s learn by doing philosophy encourages youth to experiment, innovate, and think independently, said Stacy Cwiklo, University of Illinois Extension program coordinator, 4-H youth development. “4-H grows confident kids who tackle issues that matter most in their communities.”

4-H members determine their own path in 4-H. “Youth have a strong voice in 4-H clubs and are actively determining the programs and activities in their clubs,” said Dr. Lisa Diaz, assistant dean and director of the Illinois 4-H program.

“4-H gives youth skills to be independent masters of their future by giving them real-life experiences in teaching others, providing youth voice on planning committees, advocating for positive change in their communities and gaining much-needed skills for the workplace.”

Illinois 4-H members prepare for their future by studying careers related to their 4-H project. “They choose from more than 100 projects to study,” said Cwiklo. The topics range from rocketry, GPS, computer game design, and public speaking to photography, animal science, nutrition, and more. “The project work builds a youth’s leadership, communication, organization, and decision-making skills.”

“4-H also instills a generous spirit in youth,” Diaz said. 4-H members are encouraged to help others in their communities through the hundreds of service projects conducted by Illinois 4-H clubs.

One out of every seven adults in the U.S. is a former 4-H member. Winnebago County residents only need to look at our local 4-H members to see how 4-H impacts local lives.

To learn more about joining 4-H, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw/winnebago4h , call the U of I Extension office in Winnebago County at 815-986-4357, or email Stacy Cwiklo at cwiklo@illinois.edu.

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