By Steven Baringer, Denton County 4-H & Youth Development Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
It’s time to enroll your kids in the best positive youth development program in Texas! We are halfway into the new 4-H year! As part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program provides inclusive opportunities to youth ages 8-18 in grades 3-12 for personal growth, community service, and fun. Texas 4-H reaches around 500,000 youth per year.
By joining a club in their county, youth have the opportunity to participate in one or many projects, with 43 diverse options to choose from in Agriculture and Livestock, Family and Community Health, Leadership and Citizenship, Natural Resources, and STEM. Youth gain life skills while giving back to their community and making new friends.
Research shows Texas 4-H members excel in comparison to other Texas students. Youth who are involved in 4-H programs are four times more likely to give back to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices and two times more likely to participate in STEM activities.
“Because there is such a variety of project options, every young person can something in which they are interested,” Texas 4-H Youth Development Program Director Dr. Montza Williams said.
“Developing personal interests under the leadership of older teens or adult volunteers generates many learning opportunities and bridges past and present. Members get to explore interests in a positive environment with the safety net of caring mentors.”
To join 4-H, youth pay a $30 fee. 4-H registration takes place online and that information or link can be provided by your local County Extension Agent or found on texas4-h.tamu.edu.
In addition to the youth and AgriLife Extension personnel in the program, adult volunteers assist agents with 4-H programming in the county, by providing leadership and education in the various project areas.
“Our volunteer leaders get to share their passions with the 4-H members,” Williams said. “Texas 4-H volunteers love what they do and enjoy sharing their interests in particular projects with young people. They also have a desire to see members grow and become the best individual they can be.”
Adult volunteers also register online and pay $10 to be considered a registered 4-H volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering with the Denton County program, contact your County Extension Agent for more information about where to plug in and how to get signed up.