Oct. 2 kicks off National 4-H week!
Did you know? 4-H is America’s largest youth development organization, with nearly 6 million young people enrolled across the United States.
We asked Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council, these four additional questions about the youth organization known so proudly for its green four-leaf clover emblem:
1. How has the National 4-H organization changed from its inception to the cooperative extension it is today?
Sirangelo: 4-H has been “learn by doing” from the very beginning, just after 1900. It all began with boys’ corn clubs and girls’ tomato canning clubs. Now more than a century later, 4-H is still based on experiential learning but has evolved to reflect all kinds of activities that young people want to do and all kinds of areas where young people can lead — in agriculture, STEM, health, and more! Today, 4-H reaches millions of young people through Cooperative Extension — a community of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local offices.
2. Who have been your more famous 4-H alumni?
Sirangelo: 4-H’ers have risen to high points of achievement and leadership in virtually every industry and sector. Notable alumni include:
· Jennifer Nettles, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress
· Anne Burrell, Food Network celebrity chef
· Reba McEntire, TV, Grammy Winning Recording Star
· Julia Roberts, Academy Award Winning Actress
· Terri Sewell, U.S. Representative for Alabama
· Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Representative from Tennessee
· Javier Palomarez, CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
· Herschel Walker, Heisman Trophy-winning football player
· Peggy Whitson, former NASA Chief Astronaut
· Al Gore, former U.S. vice president
· Nancy Grace, CNN Headline News host
3. Most famous 4-H exhibit in 4-H history?
Sirangelo: Ellison Onizuka carried a 4-H flag on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 1985. Astronaut Onizuka tragically lost his life as part of the 1986 crew aboard the Challenger. The flag is currently on display at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
4. What are some of the future goals for 4-H?
Sirangelo: 4-H launched its Grow True Leaders Campaign to support the organization’s growth goals of empowering 10 million youth by 2025, an increase of nearly 67 percent over the next 10 years. During this same time period, 4-H aims to engage one million alumni as part of the National 4-H Council network.
Sirangelo said all youth should consider joining 4-H.
“Simply put, 4-H empowers young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime. With a presence in every county and parish in the country – through in-school and after school programs, school and community Clubs, and 4-H camps – youth develop their own pathway in 4-H based on their interests,” Sirangelo said.”They select from a broad menu of local 4-H programs in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship. There are hands-on, learn-by-doing, opportunities for everyone. Kids receive guidance from adult mentors, take on proactive leadership roles and complete hands-on projects all while having fun and developing critical life skills.”
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