4-H gives youths opportunties

Program teaches things that will take them far in life

There’s a lot more to 4-H besides doing projects for the annual county fair.

Sure, raising an animal to show at the fair or doing any of the other projects is a lot of fun and, yes, a lot of hard work.

Doing that teaches young people responsibility and organizational skills.

Joining the nationwide organization puts youths on the path to learning skills that will make them leaders in the future.

That fact was demonstrated during the recent 4-H Recognition and Awards Banquet in Fort Dodge. During that meeting, Hannah Rees, a member of the 4-H County Council, explained just how much being a member of the group has helped her.

”What happens when you take a shy fourth-grader who doesn’t like to leave the house or her parents, and enroll her in a nationwide youth organization where you have to, No. 1, talk to adults and other youth that she doesn’t know, No. 2, encourage her to talk in front of people, and, No. 3, encourage her to go on trips from junior camp in Luther, Iowa, for a few days to a 10-day trip to Washington, D.C.?” Rees asked some 300 people at the dinner.

”Well, you can look at me,” she said, answering her own question. ”Fast forward to nine years later, and I went to Washington, D.C., this summer, going to Chicago next weekend and I’m considering traveling to a foreign country next summer. 4-H has been so important to me, because I have learned so much and gained so many life skills.”

As Rees eloquently stated, she and her fellow 4-H members are learning things that will take them far in their lives and careers.

What they learn today from the program positions them to join the ranks of highly successful former 4-H members like Iowa-born astronaut Peggy Whitson; Terry Branstad, the former Iowa governor who is now the United States ambassador to China; former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge; and former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin.

4-H helped shape their lives, and it’s helping to shape the lives of today’s youths.

It’s an outstanding organization. We encourage young people to consider joining it and we applaud the adults who make it work.