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4-H'ers: It's your time to shine

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By Renate Jobst

It's hard to focus on positives with so many negative events going on in our world. Many people are frightened about our future, but I would like to extend a special invitation to all Perry County residents to come to the 4-H fair (July 12-19) to grasp a glimpse into an optimistic future.

Perry County 4-H has many kids who are changing the world in a positive way and the 4-H fair is a time for the public to see what 4-H'ers are doing. It is an exciting time for youth to show off what they've learned in the past year, but they work on their 4-H projects year round.

The fair gives just a peek into what they've done their 4-H year. Allow me to explain what 4-H members do and how it impacts us all.

4-H'ers learn. They learn about the world around them and use that information in everyday life. They have many projects to learn from and no, 4-H is not just for "country kids."

It is for all youth in third through 12th grades and kids can learn about almost anything. Members can learn about electricity, computers, genealogy, aerospace and the list goes on and on. The fun part is that after they learn, 4-H challenges them to use that knowledge in their life.

For example, I know of a 4-H member who learned about cake decorating in 4-H and began a profitable cake decorating business. What a wonderful illustration of how 4-H'ers utilized what they learned in 4-H for everyday life.

They also develop important life skills such as decision making, critical thinking and teamwork. They have club meetings and learn how to conduct business meetings. They work with adults to develop meeting agendas to discuss important community issues and solutions to those issues. What a wonderful way to develop skills to become a good citizen.

4-H'ers help others. Members volunteer their time, talents and money for others in need. Yes, 4-H members donate to worthy causes.

They also spend their free time caring for others, such as playing bingo with the nursing home residents or mowing lawns for the elderly who can no longer mow their own lawn and can't afford to pay someone to do it. They beautify their community by participating in the River Sweep or planting flowers for government buildings.

4-H members think about how they can help other people and then find a way to do it.

4-H'ers are leaders. They serve on committees and help lead other youth in making the community better. 4-H members like to get involved and help influence other youth to get involved. They give valuable input and provide resources to help get things done. 4-H members do not feel that their age limits them. In fact, they feel it empowers them.

At the 4-H fair, 4-H members exhibit some of what they've learned during the year. Members know that 4-H is so much more than just the fair. But the fair certainly has its place in a 4-H'ers career, and I would like the community to see how wonderful our 4-H youth really are.

And where would 4-H be without our wonderful volunteers? 4-H has adult volunteers who assist members with their 4-H work.

Isn't it wonderful to know we also have adults who care about young people so much they donate their time and resources to help develop skills for young people?

4-H members will also raise money during the fair to help support 4-H. If you see a way to support Perry County 4-H clubs or 4-H Council during the fair, feel free to donate. The money goes right back into the community to help support the 4-H mission.

It's time to see our future is not that bleak. Come out the Perry County 4-H Fair and see what our 4-H members do. See you at the fair.

Jobst is the 4-H youth-development educator for Purdue Extension-Perry County.