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Youths learn by doing during National 4-H Week

BURLINGTON — National 4-H Week, from Oct. 2-8, recognizes the role that 4-H plays in helping young people “learn by doing” through club work, community service and activities that cultivate strong leadership, citizenship and life skills.
This year’s theme, #4HGrown, promotes the message that 4-H grows leaders, grows responsibility and grows skills. Throughout the week, many Vermont clubs will have displays in local libraries or storefronts. Others will set up exhibits and visit with customers at their local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) store as part of the fall 4-H Paper Clover Campaign.
This cooperative effort of TSC stores and National 4-H raises money to support local 4-H programs through the purchase of paper clovers at checkout. The campaign runs from Oct. 5-16.
“4-H engages all youths, not just farm or ag kids,” says State 4-H Program Director Sarah Kleinman. “It is about enabling young people to explore their interests whether dairy, photography, shooting sports, natural resources or any of the other 150 projects that 4-H offers.”
In Vermont more than 6,400 young people ages 8 to 18 are involved in 4-H. Just over 1,300 of these youths are enrolled in 123 4-H clubs, participating in projects, activities and local and statewide events. Others take part in in-school enrichment and out-of-school programs that teach about science, healthy living and various other fields such as embryology, rocketry, robotics andfarm safety with tractor training certification.
“All our 4-H programming builds both life and job skills, introducing participants to career opportunities and the skills that are needed to excel in those careers,” Kleinman adds. “If a youth expresses an interest in a project, we work to find adult volunteers willing to facilitate learning experiences for that child.”
Teen and leadership programs also are a big part of Vermont 4-H. Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) for the Environment, an environmental leadership opportunity for students in grades 7-12, is one of the big success stories. Through this program, teens teach younger kids about renewable energy, waste solutions, food systems and forests and trees. This fall a new TRY 4-H effort, using 4-H ambassadors to introduce 4-H programming, will be launched in Chittenden, Addison, Orleans and other counties.
Throughout October, many 4-H clubs will enroll new members as they gear up for the upcoming project year. It’s also an ideal time for 4-H alumni to reconnect with 4-H through social media (https://www.facebook.com/Vermont4H or on twitter @UVM4H) or become a 4-H volunteer. For more information, contact the University of Vermont Extension State 4-H Office toll-free at (800) 571-0668 or (802) 656-0311.

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