When people hear that my eight year old is in 4H this year, they always, without fail, ask her what animal she is doing. And in true eight-year-old fashion, she rolls her eyes, because she thinks everybody knows that 4H is not just about animals. I did not know that 4H had so much more to offer until, when she was younger, we stopped at the 4H barn at the county fair. I was shocked that they offer so many activities and experiences, that are not related to animal husbandry. This year, my child picked Outdoor Adventures Level One and Gardening. Her presentation for 4H this year was “How To Plan A Day Hike” and you can read more about that in this post, 7 Tips For Planning A Hike.
What is 4H? 4H was initially established to teach new agriculture ideas to youth because they were more accepting of new ideas and started as a community based club over 100 years ago. Over the years, it has become a nation-wide community, teaching children multiple skills, team building and more. Groups can be found in both rural and urban areas. Some of the skills are leadership, public speaking, fundraising and work ethic. 4H provides out-of-school programming, clubs and camps to empower and educate youth from ages 6-18 typically. Their goal is to empower and engage kids of all backgrounds. 4H is also available in most communities and is run through a network of University extension offices. Not all programs are available in all states, but your local extension office will often work with you to explore what is available. For more information about 4H, you can go to the official 4H website. And, the whole family can get involved.
Our local 4H program has multiple activities that are about the outdoors. Part of the 4H pledge is “my health to better living”. What better way to do that, than to get outside or learn about nature and the outdoors? Kids need to stay active, but they also need to be involved and learn those life lessons that will better prepare them for the future. The outdoors programs fall under Environmental and Natural Sciences and also Plant Sciences. Some of the programs that are offered by 4H in our area that help develop those skills and get kids outside are:
Entomology– Bugs can be so cool. Bug science is real and kids can learn more about the different types of insects, bug-related careers.the role of insects, collecting bugs, and bug related careers.
Forestry– Learn about different types of trees and their role to the environment and your area. Kids can learn more about the uses of trees and the ecology, forest health, how to identify trees and forest conservation.
Outdoor Adventures– This topic helps kids experience the fun and excitement of being outdoors. The projects feature safety tips, leave no trace education, survival skills, navigation, camping and hiking skills and backpacking.
Shooting Sports– Shooting Sports can be a a safe, fun and challenging activity for kids and families. While it does include activities with air pistols, BB guns, shot guns, and muzzle loaders, it also includes archery and hunting. Shooting can become a life-long hobby, and includes skill building in safety, discipline, concentration and responsibility. In Montana, we also have the Western Heritage Project or Western Action shooting, which is basically learning about Western weaponry, clothing and way of life.
Sport Fishing– Fishing can be a wonderful skill for kids to learn. Fishing takes skill, patience and sometimes alot of research. Kids can learn fish habitats, how to make your own tackle and the relationships between fish and the environment.Other skills include learning different casting methods, knot tying and cooking fish.
Wildlife– This project is for kids who love wildlife. Members learn about different wild animals, their habitats and habits.
Gardening– This falls under Crop Science, but I feel it is an outside activity. There is nothing like learning how to grow your own vegetables, prepare soil and play in the dirt. It’s not just about gardening outside, but also about container gardening too.
Besides the topics listed above, 4H has more to offer. Some of the different projects are animal husbandry (Beef, cat, dog, goat, horse, sheep, poultry, rabbit, pocket pet, bees and swine to name a few), engineering and technology, robotics, welding, woodworking, family and consumer science, communications and expressive arts, leadership and personal development, food and nutrition and more. Our family has benefited from 4H because we all get involved in the projects. Our daughter has learned so much about herself. Go ahead and check it out. I have spent less money in two years of 4H than I have for one season of baseball. Who knew that 4H could get you outdoors. What topic would you choose for a project? And don’t forget, be outside with no limits. Love, Pauline
I had no idea that 4H had an Outdoor Adventure section! I thought it was more home based (animals, gardening, farming, hunting, that sort of stuff). Great to know, and kudos to your daughter for rocking the lesser known category.
Both my kids have done 4H. They used to do pigs, but don’t do animals any more. It’s a lot of work and they made great money, we just don’t have the time. Thanks for sharing!
Even at my age, I still remember all of the adventures and things that I learned from 4H! I wish more children today would get involved and learn about life and self-respect. 4H changed my life!
Thanks for sharing! This is great information!
I was never a member of the 4H Club, but I was always taught how important it is to be and to get outdoors. I am trying to instill those beliefs into my children now a days. Get outside and play like a kid =)
I have a lot of friends in rural areas that have had their kids in 4H. I always love the stories and the maturity that comes with the 4H.
I never looked much into 4H, but I’m impressed as to how many things they offer for people to learn! If any of my coworkers ask about programs for their kids to become active in, I’ll have to remember to forward your blog to them!
We have thought about getting the kids into 4H. I think they’d really enjoy the animal and the outdoors themes
It’s a great addition for homeschooling, and affordable.
I think 4H is GREAT for kids. My daughter was in the Horse Masters. She had to learn about everything horses including the costs! It is not for the lazy!
Interesting. I was not born and raised in the USA and don’t have kids yet. So I have never heard about 4H. This is great to know for my future kiddos. Thank you for sharing.
Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm
Wow! Has 4H expanded over the last 20 years? I just remember 4H in school being about animals…basically like Ag. Seems like there is much more to do now!
I never knew there was so much to a 4H club. Thank you for sharing. Your daughter is adorable.
I love 4H! So much variety and you are right… no one knows how cool it is!
I didn’t know about 4H until a few years ago. What a wonderful program for kids!!!
This sounds so cool! What a great way for kids to learn about the outdoors! I probably would have wanted to learn about entomology as a kid haha!
How interesting! My granddaughter is starting with 4H to raise a rabbit this year. I had no idea though how diverse their offerings were!!!!
4H is a wonderful program. I so wish I had been able to participate as a kid. I think I would have gone into science instead of math for sure. I love seeing the 4H exhibits at the county fair!
We love 4H! We were leaders for several years for our local horse group. It’s such a great organization and teaches kids wonderful life lessons.
I have never heard of 4H or may have heard of it but never really paid much attention to it. After reading this, I am excited to look into it for my two boys here. Thanks for sharing this information!
I also didn’t realize how extensive the 4H program is. But I love anything that will get the kids off their screens and outside learning and having fun at the same time!
I never heard of 4H before. This is such a cool program for kids. What an awesome idea. Both of my boys are in Boy Scouts and they love it.
Awesome. 4H is also in urban areas as well and would be a great add on with boyscouts.
Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef
4H is really such a great organization hard to believe the cost difference in 2 years compared to baseball (ridiculous) and I’d take 4H over that any day! So much to do and learn I’m sure Niva loves it! Thanks so much for sharing once the grandkids are older I will remind my daughter about this great option! ?
My cousin was very much involved in 4H when she was younger and she loved every second of it!! Such a great program!!!
4-H is such an awesome organization. A few weeks ago I was at a county fair and the kids were having a contest on the best decorated table setting. I was amazed at the thought and detail they put into the tables. Each table had a theme. One table was decorated with nothing but animal faces. I love that 4-H has so many different areas of interest for the kids. Great article!
Yay! This is an awesome post for me. I’ve been wanting to sign my oldest, she’s 7, up for 4H. We found one that caters to homeschooling. Thanks for this!
They all work well for homeschooling! Plus, membership for us was 6.00 for cloverbuds and 10.00 for this year.
Learning about the outdoors is so important for children. Especially now with recess being cut short or cut completely!
I didn’t know they offered so many choices either! What a great organization. Thanks for making me aware.