4-H teaches service, civic engagement, leadership
Challenges for Today's Youth
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that in comparison to young baby boomers and Gen Xers, today's high school seniors and college freshmen are less interested in government, spend less time thinking about social problems and are less likely to be involved in efforts to help the environment. If those trends continue, a void of leadership could result in fewer adult role models for civic responsibility and less community connection.
4-H Impacts Communities
For a century, 4-H has emphasized the importance of civic engagement and community service as part of positive youth development. The structured, out-of-school learning, leadership experiences and adult mentoring that young people receive in 4-H helps teens achieve success and become tomorrow’s leaders.
Research findings in the recent Tufts University’s study — The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development — show that 4-Hers in grades seven to 12 are nearly four times more likely to make contributions to their communities and in grades eight to 12 are twice as likely to be civically active than their non-4-H peers.
Know Your Government
The Know Your Government Conference (KYG) is a model for effective youth community engagement. Each February, 200 Idaho teens from 4-H clubs around Idaho arrive at the state capitol and Ada County Courthouse to watch the legislative, executive and judicial systems at work. They meet and dine with Idaho’s political leaders and then they actually fulfill civic roles themselves — trying legal cases and introducing, arguing and passing (or rejecting) legislation.
Through KYG, 4-H members experience the decision-making process. This strengthens their connection with our political and social networks through education, application and inspiration. Delegates to the KYG Conference:
- Learn how teens can participate politically to influence state government
- Learn how to bring a case to court
- Develop a positive attitude toward government