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Generosity is one of the four essential elements youth need for positive youth development. 4-H clubs should do at least one community service project a year as part of their plan of action. This benefits our high school students because most students need service hours as part of graduation requirements. But with all the “have-to-do’s” in life, service can become just a thing to check off and have no real value.

How can we help our 4-H youth get more value from service projects? 

Use the Experiential Learning model (Do-Reflect-Apply) used by 4-H programs across the nation. Incorporating the reflect and apply portion of the model does take some effort, but it is not hard to do. If your club does many community service activities, choose which ones to incorporate all the steps of the Experiential Learning model.

How to take it deeper beyond just a thing to do:

Get buy in from youth concerning the service project(s) planned for the year.

UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County 4-H Club members out delivering Thanksgiving baskets to families in need.

Pre-activity – Have youth do a presentation related to the service project activity:

  • Who we are helping: Details about the group/organization
  • What type of service(s) will be done for the group
  • How will our community service benefit this group/organization

Post activity – have a casual conversation:

  • Enquire about how they felt about the service activity
  • What was an ah-ha moment
  • What did they find challenging
  • What could we do differently for next project
  • What is something you learned by doing this project that you could use in other areas of your life.

Here’s a great article in the Florida 4-H Volunteer Training Series that really breaks down the process.   You can also give your local UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Agent a call for more help.

How can you keep up with the great things we’re doing in our 4-H extension district?

  • LIKE the 4-H in the Panhandle Facebook page – @volunteeringinthepanhandle
  • LIKE your county’s 4-H Facebook page
  • SUBSCRIBE to the 4-H in the Panhandle blog

Yolanda Goode

4-H Youth Development Agent for Gadsden County

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