Auburn, Alabama — More than 100 years later, Alabama 4-H opportunities continue empowering youth’s heads, hearts, hands and health.
“The 4-H program provides youth with opportunities and experiences to build their capacity of becoming college and career ready,” said Dr. Molly Gregg, assistant director of the Alabama 4-H Program.
4-H challenges children to be their best and achieve their goals. It also empowers children with a mindset to continue their personal development throughout their life.
“We want and love to see kids grow and try things they have never done before and be successful,” said Deborah Stewart, 4-H Foundation regional Extension agent.
4-H is a program for everyone, including children and adults, and it provides a variety of opportunities for children to become involved.
“I had a mom say that her little boy is not good at sports. He really didn’t have any interests until 4-H came along,” said Stewart. “4-H lit his soul. That is what this program is. It’s offering opportunities for children to find something they can enjoy.”
Through the program, children explore their interests through school clubs and community clubs. All clubs are led by certified adult volunteers who are passionate about certain topics.
“We put our volunteers through a rigorous process of background checks and lots of screening and training just to prove that they are adequate for our children because that’s very important to us,” said Stewart.
Children and teens learn life skills through 4-H. All clubs teach and enrich students in something they otherwise do not have any knowledge of from school alone.
“4-H offers clubs in leadership, arts, livestock, shooting sports, gardening, sports fishing and kayaking clubs,” said Dr. Gregg.
While gaining hands-on experience, children have the opportunity to compete at their local county contests. Then, winners compete at a regional competition. The senior level winners move forward to compete at the state competition, which takes place at the 4-H Center in Columbiana.
“Another great part of 4-H clubs is that an eighth grader and a 12th grader in a shooting sport together teach and learn from each other,” said Stewart.
Along with clubs, students serve as members of the state 4-H council, a youth governing body for Alabama 4-H, or as a state ambassador.
“Alabama 4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation,” said Dr. Gregg.
“I love 4-H, and I love seeing kids grow and do their best and finding success in something,” said Stewart.
Each county in Alabama has a 4-H program. For more information about your local 4-H club or how to apply to volunteer, please visit www.aces.edu.