Living Well Los Alamos: 4Hs…Head, Heart, Hands & Health

Living Well Los Alamos
By HELEN IDZOREK
 
The 4 Hs: Head, Heart, Hands And Health

The green four-leaf clover with the white H’s may conjure images of raising rabbits or baking a cake. But 4H is this and so much more. Youth from large cities to rural areas can and do participate in 4H.

For instance, in Los Alamos more than 20 youths participated in shooting sports this year and even placed in the district competition in Raton. New Mexico State University 4H offers a myriad of programs including Robotics, Karate, Vegetable Gardening, Fashion Design, even a Clowning project, to name just a few.

The 4H Club has a long history of helping youth “learn by doing”. 4H focuses on teaching new topics and developing life skills. A decade-long study, completed by a team of researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, is influencing research and practice around the world. The report shows that 4-H youth excel beyond their peers.

4H’ers are:

  • Four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (Grades 7-12);
  • Two times more likely to be civically active (Grades 8-12);
  • Two times more likely to make healthier choices (Grade 7);
  • Two times more likely to participate in Science, Engineering and Computer Technology programs during out-of-school time (Grades 10 – 12); and
  • 4-H girls are two times more likely (Grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science programs compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.

Clubs are the core of 4H programs. A club is a group of five or more youths led by one or more adult leaders. Club size can vary from a small group of kids to one made up of youth from allover the country.

Volunteers are crucial to 4H clubs. Capable, interested adult volunteers are always needed to lead clubs. Training and support are provided so no previous experience is necessary. Once trained, the volunteers facilitate learning in non-formal settings such as club meetings. Volunteers are supported by professional staff, including county 4H agents who are faculty members of New Mexico State University.

The 4H year begins October 1 of every year and is open to youth ages 9-18. They are divided into three categories based on age: Novices (ages 9-11); Juniors (12-13); and Seniors (14-18). These youth may exhibit projects in local, regional and state competitions and are eligible for awards. Furthermore, older youth may have the opportunity to participate in other areas of 4H such as serving on Teen Council.

Cloverbuds is a non-competitive 4H program for youth ages 5-8. These youth often sample a variety of projects and do not enter into competitions. There is no charge to participate in 4H though clubs may choose to charge dues.

4H operates in every county in New Mexico. For more information about 4H in Los Alamos, County contact the Cooperative Extension Service at 505.662.2656.

Helen Idzorek is the Extension Home Economist and 4-H Agent for NMSU Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached via email at hidzorek@nmsu.edu or at 505.662.2656. The Los Alamos County Cooperative Extension Service is temporarily in the old Red Cross Building at 2150 Juniper St. Los Alamos.

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