Ohioans will be seeing green even before St. Patrick’s Day this year as 4-H members, in their official colors of green and white, will celebrate 4-H Week March 8–14 throughout the state.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted officially proclaimed the seven days as Ohio 4-H Week, with a state proclamation released last week. A number of special activities will help increase public awareness of the Ohio 4-H program.
As America’s largest youth development organization, 4-H supports about 6 million children nationwide including nearly 172,000 children in Ohio, where 4-H clubs exist in all 88 counties.
Ohio also has the distinction of being the birthplace of 4-H. In 1902, schoolteacher A.B. Graham started a youth program in Clark County, Ohio. Since then, youth in Ohio 4-H clubs have followed the motto “make the best better.”
Gov. DeWine recognized the impact of 4-H in his proclamation, noting that “Ohioans enjoy seeing the many and varied 4-H projects—from livestock to fine arts and from photography to model rockets—each year at their county fairs and the Ohio State Fair.”
Although originally started as an organization for farm children, today Ohio 4-H emphasizes leadership and citizenship skills, and it extends into the suburbs and inner cities.
Ohio youth, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H through community clubs, camps, schools, and short-term experiences. Regardless of the environment, 4-H relies on the experiential learning model, which emphasizes “learning by doing” through hands-on activities.
Much of this learning revolves around projects selected by the 4-H member. Working in partnership with adult leaders and volunteers, youth delve into animals, computers, public speaking, cooking, art, gardening, leadership, and environmental sciences, just to name a few.
According to Kirk Bloir, state 4-H leader and assistant director of Ohio State University Extension, 4-H helps youth develop important life skills. “Youth in 4-H are more likely to be active in their communities, make healthy choices, and look for higher education opportunities,” he said. Additionally, Ohio 4-H alumni are 10% more likely to have a college degree than their counterparts.
Volunteers are a vital part of Ohio 4-H with more than 1,200 sharing their time and expertise to help youth succeed. They assist with programs, camps, fairs, committees, and serve as club advisors. Ohio 4-H volunteers will be recognized on March 14 at the Ohio 4-H Conference in Columbus.
The Ohio 4-H youth development program is part of OSU Extension, the statewide outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. See an infographic snapshot of Ohio 4-H here.