What is 4-H?

4-H is America's largest non-formal Educational program for youth, annually reaching approximately 6.5 million young people. The educational programs help children develop inquiring minds, learn practical skills, strengthen decision making abilities, improve communications and interpersonal relationships, and ultimately share their skills and experience in leadership roles. Through hands-on, learn-by-doing activities, youth establish real-life goals and develop important life skills enabling them to become competent, productive citizens.  Today's 4-H program is for all youth - both rural and urban from all racial, cultural, economic and social backgrounds. It reaches youth in a variety of ways: as members of organized community 4-H clubs, as participants in special interest groups, or through school enrichment programs. As members of the Florida 4-H program, youth are provided opportunities for a multitude of awards, trips and scholarships. They participate in these recognition programs through enrollment in 4-H projects which can range in subject matter from the environment to entomology or from bicycles to beef.

Sumter County 4-H Basics

In Sumter County youth are encouraged to complete and turn in a record of your project accomplishments for each year.  In order to receive credit for a year of 4-H you must turn in a completed Project or Record Book.  By turning in a completed book youth will receive a 4-H year pin.  Youth turning in a completed book will also receive a project medal.  To have a Completed book you must attach a Project Summary (Participation Summary for Cloverbud members) to the back of your book.  

A 4-H Project is any learning experience of six hours or more.  Youth can complete a project in just about anything.  To find all of the projects we offer check out our Publication Guide.  Youth can complete a Project Book or a Record Book in any project.  A Project Book is a guide of activities and learning experiences that a 4-H’er can work on individually or in a 4-H club.  A Record Book is an organized method of keeping records on a project, for example beef, dairy, shooting sports, or clothing created. 

4-H Clubs are the most recognized and successful delivery method that is used in Florida 4-H.  4-H clubs can be community based or project based.  For example your club can be a general project club that meets in a certain geographical area of the community, or your club can focus on one specific project such as shooting sports and serve the whole county.  In General Community clubs youth can choose to do a different project each year or everyone can do individual projects.  All clubs should do a community service project.  The 4-H Motto is “Making the Best Better.”  Therefore, clubs should strive to serve their community through a service project.  Club leaders should also try to encourage youth to present a demonstration or illustrated talk in their club on their 4-H project. 

The main Goal of 4-H in Sumter County is to teach Life Skills through non-formal education.  This means that youth should learn through Hands-On Experiences versus attending lectures and reading textbooks.  Life Skills are those skills that help youth become more productive citizens for the future.  Life Skills are responsibility, goal setting, time management, organization, communication, etc.  Each project teaches several Life Skills and can be measured through the completion of their Project or Record Book. 

Parents, I would like to encourage you to support your child as they strive to “Make the Best Better” through 4-H.  You can do this in several ways.  First, volunteer in your club, leader’s need parents to help in planning activities, chaperoning youth, and keeping youth safe.  Two, stay up to date on current dates and activities.  I hate to see young people miss out on an educational event or activity because parents and leaders did not read their newsletter or check out the website.  My goal is to always provide timely information for your child.  Lastly, I encourage you to help your child have balance in their 4-H career.  4-H is not about winning the blue ribbon or always placing first but is about having an educational experience that meets the needs of specific youth.  Youth learn to set goals, meet a standard and strive for excellence.  We recognize youth in all of these areas and want to see them grow in confidence and self worth.

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