COLLEGE STATION – As of Oct. 5, more than 9,000 youth had signed up to participate in about 250 community service projects throughout the state as part of National 4-H Week, with more to come, culminating on Oct. 8 with One Day 4-H, said a Texas 4-H official.
“The 4-H program is a nationwide youth development program in which more than 6.5 million youth participate annually,” said Toby Lepley, 4-H and youth development specialist in College Station. “In Texas, 4-H is administered by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, part of the Texas A&M University System. The Texas 4-H program is the largest in the nation, with more than 640,000 youth members and 23,700 youth and adult volunteers.”
Lepley said over the last two years more than 21,000 4-H members and adult volunteers have participated in One Day 4-H, which has been designated as the official Texas 4-H day of community service statewide.
He said through these hundreds of statewide community 4-H activities more than $4.5 million in volunteer time was donated, based on the hourly value established by the Corporation for National and Community Service. In addition, approximately $200,000 was raised for other nonprofits and human service organizations, more than 125 miles of Texas beaches and roads were cleaned, and 80,317 pounds of food were collected for the needy.
“This year it looks like we’re on track for another exceptional year of 4-H participation in community service-related activities throughout the state as part of National 4-H Week and One Day 4-H,” Lepley said.
He said the National 4-H Week celebration began Oct. 2 with “a day of reflection” on how to serve and help others. Then activities on individual days of the week were tied to a theme using the four H’s of the official 4-H pledge — head, heart, hands and health. The celebration will conclude Oct. 8 with One Day 4-H.
“Activities were developed around the individual components of the 4-H pledge and 4-H club leaders were asked to develop activities relating to the community service aspect of those components,” Lepley said. “And this year, as part of our overall youth development effort, we added a National 4-H Youth Science Day on Oct. 5 focusing on renewable energy technologies.”
He said National 4-H week activities throughout Texas so far have included several clean-ups of public areas, painting and graffiti removal, volunteering at nursing homes, children’s day care facilities and veterinarian clinics, collecting food and other items for wildfire victims, raising money for other nonprofit organizations, and making presentations at schools to inspire other youth to become involved in helping their community.
He said that for more than 104 years the 4-H program in Texas has been engaging youth in activities that help them develop life skills such as leadership, teamwork and effective communications, and that community service is a vital part of the program.
There are a variety of urban and rural activities and youth development opportunities available through 4-H, Lepley added.
“Our members participate in projects and activities involving the use of technology, engineering, human and animal sciences, horticulture, agriculture, natural resources and wildlife education, public speaking, photography, outdoor sports and much more,” he said. “Young people’s experiences in 4-H can make a difference for a lifetime by helping them develop into good citizens and leaders with strong character.”
A list of One Day 4-H projects scheduled throughout the state and information on how to become involved in One Day 4-H, can be found at http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/oneday.
For more information on 4-H, contact the local Texas AgriLife Extension Service office or go to the Texas 4-H and Youth Development website at http://texas4-h.tamu.edu.