4-H prepares youth for life

The county fairs are over, and it will soon be back-to-school time for area youth, but a recent study found that youth who participate in 4-H learn year-round.

That is something people around here have known for quite some time. For generations, 4-H has been a part of the fabric of western South Dakota.  

The Butte-Lawrence County 4-H program serves about 340 youth in 14 clubs, and the Meade County 4-H program serves about 280 youth in 15 clubs — from horse clubs to beekeeping to shooting sports and rodeo. 

The study about 4-H participation, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, found that youth in 4-H experienced more positive development than their peers who were not in the program. 

4-H is a public-private partnership focused on developing student citizenship, healthy living, and on science, engineering, and technology programs. The organization reaches more than 7 million youth in urban, suburban, and rural communities across the country, including right here in the Black Hills. 

Youth involved in 4-H programs participate in everything from hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs to events that encourage citizenship and community action.

County fairs are the culmination of hard work on the part of 4-H youth. They have spent countless hours creating string art projects or practicing showing their sheep. That’s why it means so much when the judge hands them that purple ribbon. It’s a symbol of their self-motivation and ability to see a project through to the end. 

Those who lead 4-H programs say true leaders aren’t born, they’re grown. True leaders are young people who have confidence; know how to work well with others; can endure through challenges; and will stick with a job until it gets done. 

4-H’s hands-on approach is proven to grow life skills like confidence, independence, resilience, and compassion through stages and developed through experiences, not instruction.

The result? Kids who are empowered with the skills to lead for a lifetime.

Butte-Lawrence County Junior Leader Danika Gordon may have said it best when she saluted the 15 Butte-Lawrence County seniors who graduated in May. She said that the students would be well prepared for whatever adventures and challenges lie ahead because they have developed many skills through 4-H. 

The 4-H Club pledge speaks volumes about their commitment: “I pledge ... My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

We salute all those 4-H members, past and present, for being committed to making themselves and their communities better.

Black Hills Pioneer,

Editorial board

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