Living Well Los Alamos: The 4 H’s―Head, Heart, Hands And Health

By HELEN IDZOREK
Los Alamos
 
The green four-leaf clover with the white H’s may conjure images of raising rabbits or baking a cake.
 
But 4-H is this and so much more. Youth from large cities to rural areas can and do participate in 4-H. For instance, youth in Los Alamos participate in archery, .22 pistol and shotgun projects as well as competing in the District competition in Raton. New Mexico State University 4H offers a variety of programs including Robotics, Karate, Vegetable Gardening, Fashion Design, even a Clowning project, to name just a few.
 
4-H has a long history of helping youth “learn by doing”. 4-H 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. 
 
4-H’ers are about:
  • 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 4-H programs. A club is a group of 5 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 all over the country.
 
Volunteers are crucial to 4-H 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 4-H agents who are faculty members of New Mexico State University.
 
The 4-H 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 youths 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 4-H such as serving on Teen Council.
 
Cloverbuds is a non-competitive 4-H program for youth ages 5-8. These youths often sample a variety of projects and do not enter into competitions. There is no charge to participate in 4-H though clubs may choose to charge dues.
 
4-H operates in every county in New Mexico. There will be an informational meeting about 4-H from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 4, at the Sportsmen’s Club on Rendija Rd in Los Alamos.
 
For more information about 4H in Los Alamos County contact the Cooperative Extension Service at 505.662.2656. Source: www.4h.org
 
Helen Idzorek is the Family and Consumer Sciences/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 located in the Community Building at 475 20th St, Suite A, Los Alamos, NM 87544. Find them on facebook or visit their website at www.losalamosextension.nmsu.edu New Mexico State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.
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