4-H Week: For more than 100 years, 4-H is a family affair

4-H is the youth development program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since 4-H began more than 100 years ago, it has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. The 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills needed to be proactive forces in their communities, while nurturing youth to their full potential.

Anyone who is at least 5 years old and enrolled in Kindergarten as of Jan. 1 of the current year can join 4-H Cloverbuds. Youth who are at least 8 years old and enrolled in third grade as of Jan. 1 can join 4-H. Membership can continue through Dec. 31 of the year in which the youth attains the age of 19.

The Washington County 4-H Program is conducted by OSU Extension staff and volunteers working under the leadership of 4-H professionals in the Ohio 4-H Office in Columbus.

The cost to participate in 4-H will vary depending on several things. Many 4-H clubs charge a minimal amount of dues to help pay for club expenses and activities. Some clubs may also require members to pay for project books, while others may hold fundraisers to cover such expenses. Most of the expense involved in 4-H will be related to the projects that are chosen. Some projects, such as foods, may use items you already have on hand. Other projects, such as animals, may require a larger investment. With the wide range of 4-H projects that are available, there is something to fit every family’s budget.

While 4-H is primarily considered a youth program, the support of the family is essential for a successful 4-H experience. Parents and family members are always invited and encouraged to participate in all 4-H club meetings and activities. 4-H is unique among youth activities because it allows children and parents to work side-by-side, having fun together, while developing new talents and skills.

Each year, 4-H members must choose at least one project to complete. 4-H projects are designed to help members explore topics of interest to them. Projects may also help members explore potential career fields. Each 4-H project provides a variety of educational experiences and helps members learn by doing. Members have opportunities to share what they learn through demonstrations at club meetings, county project judging events, and exhibition at the county fair.

Ohio has 4-H projects on many different topics such as animals, cooking, creative arts, gardening, healthy living, and natural resources, just to name a few. The complete list of 4-H projects is available in the Ohio 4-H Family Guide, which is available from a 4-H advisor or county Extension office.

Youth join 4-H by contacting OSU Extension at 740-376-7431 to locate a club or a 4-H club directly.