Written by Kaitlyn Bernarde
National 4-H Week will be celebrated October 3-9, 2021. This week celebrates the accomplishments of 4-H youth, and the opportunities 4-H offers to youth in Marathon County and across the country. Here are 10 facts you may not know about 4-H:
#1: 4-H was formalized in 1914 by an Act of Congress and is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The Smith-Lever Act created the Cooperative Extension System, which is a partnership of more than 100 land-grant universities, federal, state, and local governments. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the land grant university in Wisconsin that delivers 4-H programing.
#2: 4-H is in over 70 countries and is one of the world’s largest youth development organizations reaching over 7 million youth. This enables older 4-H youth to study abroad, and Wisconsin 4-H families to host youth, too.
#3: 4-H enrollment is open to youth in grades 5K-13, (a year after high school). 4-H membership goes by grade instead of age. Youth in grades 5K to 2nd grade can only enroll in the Cloverbud project. This allows them to explore many different projects appropriate for their age without competition.
#4: 4-H activities happen throughout the year (not just at the county fair). 4-H clubs meet monthly to participate in service-learning projects, educational programs, and recreational activities. In addition to regular programming, there are also summer and winter camping opportunities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, county, regional, and statewide project meetings are offered in-person and virtually.
#5: 4-H is a research-based, positive youth development program grounded in hands-on learning. Each 4-H program includes a reflection activity to help participants apply their experience to future situations. Learn more about 4-H here.
#6: There are 4 different types of 4-H clubs which include:
- Community Clubs can be a small neighborhood club or have youth from across the county. Community Clubs meet monthly in the evenings or on weekends with youth officers elected to guide the club’s activities.
- 4-H Classroom Clubs are 4-H programs offered during the school day to a specific grade. Students explore their interests over a period of days, weeks, or months.
- 4-H After School Clubs are 4-H programs offered following the school day that typically meet in the school building or at the location of a partnering organization.
- 4-H Military Clubs provide 4-H programming for youth with a parent(s) serving in the military to provide a safe and nurturing environment through strong, educational programs.
#7: 4-H needs adult volunteers to lead programs. Volunteers help organize clubs, share their knowledge and expertise, chaperone activities, and chair committees. Whether its teaching someone how to sew or balance a checkbook, volunteering as a 4-H leader is a great way for adults to give back to their communities by passing along their skills to the next generation.
#8: 4-H has so much more than just animal projects. There are over 100 projects youth can explore in 4-H which include woodworking, foods and nutrition, needle felting, fishing, music, and public speaking. Click here for a full listing of 4-H projects offered in Marathon County.
#9: Marathon County has the 4th largest 4-H membership program in Wisconsin. In 2020-2021, Marathon County 4-H had 663 youth enrolled and 248 adult volunteer leaders. The program also reached 258 additional youth through summer school programming with the Wausau School District’s Community Connections program.
#10: 4-H has year-round open enrollment. The 4-H year runs September through August. Youth members and adult leaders can enroll at wi.4honline.com. For a full listing of clubs in Marathon County, when and where they meet, and club contact information, please visit: https://marathon.extension.wisc.edu/4h/join-4-h/select-a-club/
4-H offers a place for everyone – youth and adults. During the 2021, program year 4-H is focused on helping youth “Find Their Spark” by discovering something that brings them joy, allows them to express their personality, and contribute to the world. Learn more about Marathon County 4-H at marathon.extension.wisc.edu/4h or by contacting the UW-Extension Marathon County office at 715-261-1230.