This week, Oct. 7-13, the 4-H members in this area join with 4-H members throughout the nation in observance of the annual National 4-H Week. The theme is "4-H SET" standing for science, engineering and technology. That certainly sounds like 4-H is more than just cows and cooking, and it is.
Through 4-H young boys and girls are learning information and acquiring experiences that will help them in this age of high technology. When 4-H was started in the early days of the last century it had a purpose as a tool of teaching young people about raising corn, about beef, how to cook and sew and other information that was needed to help with the rural economy and to help them to learn to make a living. This was also a way to teach adults new practices. By teaching the youth, the adults also learned.
After several years, which now looking back in history were a few years, the emphasis was placed on the development of boys and girls and the projects were used as the tools in their development. In more recent years the emphasis was placed on life skills, which is another way of saying the development of boys and girls.
Continuously, as I visit with a large number of people, they express that the 4-H program is highly beneficial for youth. Teachers, in their observance of youth, realize that the ones in 4-H have developed skills and themselves in ways that give them a jumpstart with others. Former members express that 4-H helped them to prepare for the work world and to obtain employment in good jobs. One out of nine boys and girls in Missouri of 4-H age are involved in 4-H. This is a good portion of that population.
Many of the members are under the opinion that as they get older there is nothing there for them. They are wrong; there are a great many opportunities to attend trips and conferences. There are opportunities to perform leadership and community service. The more effort that is made on their part the more satisfaction and they find much of their efforts to be well rewarding.
A great number of awards and recognition are given in 4-H which is important to the program and the members and leaders. Still, the process is of much greater value than the awards -- it is the process that is of the greatest value; the experiences gained, the learning gained, the making of new friendships and a number of other things can be added.
During this week in observance of National 4-H Week, members are doing a number of things to promote 4-H and to increase the awareness of the public in what 4-H are doing and the benefits of 4-H. This is the time when a special effort is made to obtain new members and to encourage adults to apply to become volunteer leaders. Among the things they are doing is to have window displays. You will want to make a special effort to view their displays.
The week is Sunday to Saturday, but it was in a sense kicked off with the tremendous chicken barbecue held last Saturday. There were about 1,800 adult plates served and another 200 child plates served -- that makes for a lot of chicken bones. It takes good leadership, by several, good cooperation and a great amount of work and effort to pull it off. It provides good fellowship and an opportunity to visit with others. This is a major fundraiser for the council and the funds are used for the promotion of 4-H and leadership and member development -- a good cause.
It may seem a little odd for those now involved, but Darlene Sheridan and a few others remember the first annual barbecue. It was held in what is now the swine barn. That was before the pavilion was built and I do not think the cattle barn existed. The cooking took place in the south end of the building and the serving was on tables put up in the north end. There were 100 people served and considered highly successful. Those working at the first event worked hard. That was a start of what has become a successful major annual event in the county.
You might wonder why 4-H is involved with science, engineering and technology. 4-H has always been on the cutting edge and it continues to be. 4-H SET projects include projects in such areas as animal science, plant science, agriculture, environment science and engineering, technology and other sciences.
We as a nation and society are facing a critical challenge. We are a leader in the world's economy and in military. Too many of our young people do not have the science, engineering and technology career skills to meet our country's needs in the future.
To help meet these crises that we will be facing, 4-H is getting involved. The SET program is a national priority for the next 5 years. A focus in 4-H will be on increasing the number of young people obtaining careers in these fields.
At the state fair I learned that Vernon County is recognized as having one of the best 4-H programs in the state. This is because of a large number of people, including volunteer leaders, the 4-H members and a large number of supporters. If you are not involved with this program in some way, now is a good time.
A question when hearing the theme is "what is that?" There is a great amount to be learned about the theme, but with increased knowledge it becomes a logical theme for National 4-H Week, "4-H SET."