4-H isn't just about farming

4-H isn't just about farming

So enough with the straw-chewing jokes already.

Last month I took a 4-H volunteer training class to begin preparing for our new 4-H club. We have been members in another club for two years, but it has since stopped meeting so we needed to find another closer to home. We didn’t have one, unfortunately, so we decided to create our own. In recruiting new members for this club, the most frequent question I have run across is, “Isn’t 4-H about farming?”

In a word, no! It is true that 4-H club has its roots in farming, but that’s because we used to be a largely agrarian society. The main interest of people—as well as their main interest—was farming. Now, however, as we have grown and diversified, so has the program. It’s really all about helping children develop their interest and leadership qualities by making friends.

Even the 4-H projects you might have been familiar with as a child have changed. Sure, there are still projects that include raising rabbits or cows, but there are also many others—from fashion design to robotics, cooking to Legos, and anything else you can imagine. 

There are even independent study projects for children who wish to explore something that may not already be covered in the 4-H curriculum. Your child wants to write a novel, create a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing group, or travel to every state as a project? He or she can totally do it! The only limit is your child’s desire and imagination—and, of course, your bank account if the dream does require that much travel.

We had our first meeting tonight and already I can see a great group of artists and engineers shaping up. So far no one in our group has really indicated interest in agriculture; the closest interest listed tonight was in animals—specifically, turtles. I can’t wait to see what kinds of projects our kids want to do and get started in doing them! Visit the website above to locate the 4-H group nearest you and you can get started in your own community.

4-H dues are very reasonable—ours are under $20 per year, per child, while adult volunteers are free—and if you have a financial hardship you can apply for waived fees as well. If you do live too far away from another group to meet, you can always start your own group or even do projects as a family, too.