4-H has a lot of opportunities for our youth. We have still-projects galore; we have livestock projects to gain hands-on experiences; Junior Camp counselors; Cloverbud Day Camp counselors; and so much more! Not everyone can do everything, but I am sure we have something for everyone. Let’s dive into a couple of options that may help you figure out where your 4-H kiddo can meet new people and get further involved.
Junior Fair Board (JFB) is the big group of our youth. This group had over 60 members in 2023 and is responsible for helping choose the awards that are presented at the fair. They also have input on their assigned specie committees, and work beside our adult committee members to learn how to run a meeting, organize tasks, and manage their calendars. These kids have meetings throughout the year and have opportunities to sign up to help organize and implement 4-H events. They oversee keeping track of event dates, times, and details. If they are accepted into this group, every teen is required to fill out an Achievement Record Application to be accepted onto the JFB. This group also plans a bus trip every year. Last year we toured the West Virginia State Fair and different Ohio county fairs to see if there were things they could implement at our fair. Going to different county and state fairs gives them a perspective that not every fair is like ours and how blessed we are. Youth in other counties across the state do not have the opportunities our youth does.
Being a member of the JFB opens the doors to other possibilities such as the 4-H Awareness Team. This team puts together a youth-led, twenty-minute presentation and activity for the third-grade classrooms of Wayne County elementary schools and educates the classes about 4-H. The youth that are a part of this group really love watching the excitement of these third graders and I enjoy hearing these teens reflect on the student’s reaction to what they learned. This team is designed to reach those students but also help our JFB members’ public speaking skills. Practicing how to present from a Power Point is a skill that will help them in their future.
Being on JFB also opens the different state and national 4-H camps that they can participate in. Each year we have youth that are interested in these camps, and we do our very best to send them. From the National 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus Camp, National 4-H Congress Camp, National Dairy Conference, Buckeye Leadership Workshop, Ohio 4-H Leadership Camp and the Ohio 4-H Sea Camp. These camps are spread throughout the year. The JFB members that attended these camps this year came back with new games to play with campers, new team building activities that they led for our groups, and additional confidence in themselves.
Camp Counselor is another great option. This is a time-consuming group, but well worth it. There are two camps that we run in our county. The first is Cloverbud Day Camp, normally held in June each year. The JFB members that want to be a part of this are required to fill out a separate application. Once they are chosen, they are tasked with choosing the theme, providing snacks, and planning activities. This group of teens must go through state required training to give them the tools they need to communicate with very young campers, handle tough campers, and keep campers engaged and excited activities that they might find dull. They also help with the set-up and tear-down. Our Junior Camp Counselors have the same requirements with the state trainings and work hard for months to put together the Junior Camp, making sure things are organized and planned well. It is a great pleasure of mine to work with these individuals.
These opportunities are designed to help teach our youth workforce skills to be great employees down the road, and time management and communication skills needed to become a responsible adult. This group has fun and works hard. They roll up their sleeves and ask, ‘where can I help?’ We have expectations of this select group of teens: we want them to be a part of the group and not just be in the background. We want them to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. This group is designed to “Make the Best Better”! If you have a youth member looking to become a part of this amazing group of teens, look for the 2024 Achievement Record Application coming out October 1st. They will be on our website https://go.osu.edu/2024wcachievementrecord. Applications are due to the Extension Office by November 3, 2023, by 4:30pm, late applications will not be accepted.
Diane Johnson is program assistant, 4-H Youth Development, for Wayne County Extension. She can be reached at email@example.com or 330-264-8722
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.