Ohio 4-H: Making a difference

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For more than 100 years, The Ohio State University has been home to the largest out-of-school, educational program in the United States with over six million young people participating last year. This program, known as 4-H, was first developed in 1902 by A.B. Graham, superintendent of Clark County Schools, Springfield, Ohio.

Since those early days, 4-H has grown to include rural, suburban and urban youth, and continues to focus on critical issues facing young people in their local communities.

Nadine Fogt, extension educator, 4-H Youth Development, explained that Graham first initiated the concept of 4-H with the idea that if young people could “learn by doing” in the environment around them, they would learn more from textbooks in school. According to Fogt, Graham’s philosophy was that by learning about the soil, studying plants and how they grow, doing experimentation and research, youth could become more productive people and have a better quality of life.

Today, Ohio 4-H is still an exciting program for young people, said Fogt, with nearly 216,000 members “learning by doing” and developing themselves to their greatest potential with the motto “to make the best better.” The vision of Ohio 4-H is developing youth to become positive, productive citizens and catalysts for effective change to improve our diverse society. The Fayette County 4-H program currently reaches 800 youth.

Ohio 4-H programs are designed to engage youth in healthy learning experiences, thus increasing self-esteem and problem-solving skills. Fogt said programs address topics such as stress management, parent-teen communication, personal development, careers, environmental stewardship, and global understanding. A wide range of content offerings encourages youth to explore science, technology and citizenship. Fogt also talked about the statewide 4-H effort. She said Ohio 4-H offers over 200 different projects related to the needs of people living in a complex society.

“4-H is a dynamic program because of the many volunteers who support youth who are involved in clubs, special interests groups, and school enrichment programs, and many other programs,” Fogt said. “Nearly 18,000 adults in Ohio give their time, energy and talents to guide and teach youth through various educational programs and activities.”

Fogt reported that 160 volunteers are involved in the Fayette County 4-H Youth Development program.

For more information about the 4-H program, contact the Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County office at 740-335-1150.

Source: Jeff King, State 4-H Leader & Assistant Director, Ohio State University Extension

PH: 614-292-6944; FX: 614-292-5937; EM: king.20@osu.edu; www.ohio4h.org

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