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Meeting the future

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A comment made by several people in the last few days is, "the chicken was good." They are talking about the delicious barbecue chicken served by the 4-H members and their families at the Vernon County Youth Fair Grounds last Saturday evening. This is a major fund raising event for the Vernon County 4-H Council.

It is most pleasing to me personally to see the tradition of the 4-H chicken barbecue continue and to be successfully done. One of the features this year was the drive through service that was available for those wishing to pick up their dinner as carry out. A great feature of the event as always is the large number of members, leaders and parents involved, all working to do their part to make the event successful.

This event is one of the many events held during the year where people involved with the 4-H program work together. This cooperation and support helps to make the program a great success. There are many great things going on with the 4-H in Vernon County. This county is recognized state wide as having a great 4-H program.

This week, Oct. 4-10, is National 4-H Week. It is a time when the 4-H members in Vernon County join with all of the 4-H members in the nation to observe this special week. It is a time to promote 4-H and to have membership drives and to recruit volunteer leaders. In Vernon County the 4-H chicken barbecue is the kick-off for National 4-H Week in Vernon County. It is the tradition to have the barbecue the first Saturday in October. If you missed getting some of the delicious chicken this year, put this event on your calendar for next year.

National 4-H Week sneaked up on me this year. All of a sudden it is the first week in October. Perhaps, the reason it took me by surprise is that I am no longer actively involved in the program. As I have told you before my blood is green -- 4-H green.

Some of the things that local 4-H members will be doing, in addition to the barbecue, included several 4-H members attending church in groups last Sunday in observance of National 4-H Sunday, members have made public spot announcements to be played on the local radio station, clubs have window displays to promote 4-H and their club and it is being observed in other ways

I asked Ina Metzger Linville, Ph.D., Director of University of Missouri 4-H Center for Youth Development, to make a comment about the observance of National 4-H Week in the state of Missouri. I am pleased to share the comment with you from the state 4-H leader:

"'Meet the Future,' the theme for National 4-H Week, boldly proclaims that by looking at 4-H you are looking at the future. It's where young people, explore, learn and discover in a safe environment. In 4-H, kids find their true passions, gain confidence and give back to their community. Can we say that? Absolutely (!), thanks to the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development led by premier developmental psychologists, Richard and Jacque Lerner of Tufts University.

"As we evaluate our programs, the data do support what we have known in our hearts for nearly 100 years. Young people in our programs not only do better, but they thrive. Young people in 4-H make better choices than their non-4-H peers by rejecting the temptations to use drugs and vandalizing their surroundings. This is because our 4-H'ers report they are significantly more engaged in meaningful leadership opportunities than their non-4-H peers. So, not only are our members thriving, so are the communities in which they reside.

"So, as we celebrate National 4-H Week, we can celebrate the confidence children, youth and families have in us and our programs and we can take this opportunity to recommit our covenant with them to create opportunities where young people are valued, contributing members of their community."

As common as it may seem, not everyone is familiar with what the H's stand for. They stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Much can be said for each on of these H's and what they represent in the program. It began early in the last century as boys and girls clubs. Before there was a 4-leaf clover as an emblem, a three leaf clover was the emblem, standing for Head Heart and Hands. In 1911 Health was added to the H's. One leader suggested Hustle. Many of those in 4- H do live up to the idea of hustle.

It has been my pleasure to observe a large number of kids in 4-H and have observed their development and how being in 4-H helped them to succeed. I have also watched the development of leaders by adults being involved with giving leadership to the boys and girls.

There are many opportunities in 4-H. It certainly is the place to "meet the future."

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large