«

»

Why 4-H is a Good Investment

Photo credit: National 4-H Council

September 1st marks the new 4-H year in Florida, and many families are enrolling their kids this week. There are several different ways that youth can participate in 4-H.  The most traditional delivery mode is community clubs, but youth can also participate through their school or afterschool program, military youth center, camp, or even as a short-term special interest member.

Last year, Florida 4-H introduced a membership fee for community club members ages 8-18 of $20.00.  Many parents have asked me, “Why is Florida 4-H charging community clubs?  Many club kids are enrolled in projects where parents have already invested money into animals or equipment (shooting sports, robotics, sewing machines).”  I am one of those parents- my own children are enrolled in the poultry project and would like to advance to a rabbit, pig or steer.  As a parent who has paid the fee, I see it as an investment, and here’s why:

Photo credit: Paula Davis, UF IFAS Bay County

Although every 4-H delivery mode incorporates positive youth development strategies, research shows that the club delivery mode has the greatest benefit to youth.  A few years ago, Tufts University did a groundbreaking study on Positive Youth Development.  They studied youth engaged in a variety of youth programs (including 4-H) and they tracked the youth from 5th grade until graduation.  Florida participated in this study and the results were exciting for 4-H!  You can read the full report here.  Based on this research, compared to youth in other youth programs, youth engaged in 4-H clubs are:

  • Four times more likely to contribute to their communities
  • Two times more likely to be civically active
  • Two times more likely to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities during out-of-school time
  • Two times more likely to make healthier choices
  • 4-H girls are two times more likely to take part in science programs compare to girls in other youth program

So as a parent, I see the club membership fee as an investment.  Twenty dollars is way less than what I pay so that my kids can play soccer for a couple of months each year (and depending on the coach- my kids may or may not learn sportsmanship and teambuilding).  There isn’t anything on the list above that I don’t want for my children.  But these outcomes are all tied to long term involvement with a 4-H club.  Clubs are the most effective delivery mode for positive youth development because they focus on three very important areas:

  • Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults
  • Activities that build important life skills
  • Opportunities for youth to use these skills as participants and leaders in valued community activities

Photo credit: Julie Dillard, UF IFAS Washington County

So if 4-H sounds like a good investment to you, here’s how to enroll (if you are a member of more than one club, you pay the membership only one time per year):

NEW 4-H Members:

  1. Log onto https://florida.4honline.com
  2. Create a family profile.
  3. Enroll individual youth.
  4. Each youth must have a club and project (select from the drop-down menu).
  5. You will receive an email with a link to pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee after enrolling.
  6. Pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee.  If you don’t want to pay online, you can drop off cash, check or money order at your local UF IFAS County Extension Office using this form.
  7. Membership will be set to active after fee is paid. Until
    membership fee is paid, youth cannot attend 4-H club meetings, events or activities.

RETURNING 4-H Members:

  1. Log onto https://florida.4honline.com
  2. Enter your email address and password.
  3. Update contact, medical, club and project information for each member.
  4. Each youth must have a club and project (select from the drop down menu).
  5. You will receive an email with a link to pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee after enrolling.
  6. Pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee.  If you don’t want to pay online, you can drop off cash, check or money order at your local UF IFAS County Extension Office using this form.
  7. Membership will be set to active after fee is paid. Until membership fee is paid, youth cannot attend 4-H club meetings, events or activities.

Many counties are planning 4-H kickoffs this time of year, and those events are a great way to learn about the different clubs available in your community.  If the fee is a hardship for your family, contact the 4-H agent for possible scholarships.  For more information about 4-H, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

 

PG

Author: Heather Kent - hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.