Club Spotlight: Switch'n Horns 4-H Beef
“I like to get involved. To make new friends. To do service and help out the community.” After a moment’s pause, 14-year-old Alexander summed up why he enjoys being in the Switch’n Horns 4-H Club.
The sentiment was obvious to see during an evening work session for the club, with he and his clubmates quickly jumping in to provide maintenance to the cattle ring the club rebuilt and has taken care of at the Cheshire Fairgrounds since 2006.
Like many clubs, Switch’n Horns takes pride in being a long-standing tradition within New Hampshire’s 4-H community. When asked how long she has been a part of the club, 15-year of Makenna simply states, “Since I was little. My dad was in it, my uncle, my whole family has been.” With a current focus on beef cattle, the club’s youth and families maintain a drive to keep the knowledge alive and accessible, especially in the face of New Hampshire’s declining beef inventory. Kim Hudson, Switch’n Horns organizational leader, is dedicated to this cause. “I want to keep agriculture alive in youth. It’s important that youth today know where their food comes from and how to care for the animals.”
Kim and the Switch’n Horns club have followed this belief when emerging from the pandemic, organizing and hosting both an Animal Science Bonanza in March and a Beef Field Day in late April. Beef Field Day was also an opportunity for the club members to share their knowledge and expertise with participants from across the state and Vermont, leading sessions from an opening teambuilder to halter tying and feed identification. These types of experiences exemplify the possibilities for youth’s growth through 4-H. After mentoring over 200 4-Hers through the past 27 years of volunteer service, Kim’s belief in the program remains. “It’s great to see them excelling in life after their 4-H experience. They always come back and share, and it’s nice to see how they developed and used their leadership skills.”
When asked what they want to do next within the club, youth members start to rattle off different possibilities, from a beef cook-off and learning about raising pigs to sharing their love of cake decorating. But quickly the conversation turned to what is often most important to them: discussing what friends they have hopefully convinced to join 4-H, and why they would be a great fit for their dedicated, hard-working Switch’n Horns club in which they take so much pride.
To see the Switch’n Horns club in action, drop by the Cheshire Fair on Thursday, August 4th at 10:00am for the 4-H Beef Show!
The 4-H Basics
What is 4-H?
4-H is America’s largest youth development organization. The purpose of 4-H is to provide a supportive setting for all youth to pursue the projects and interests they love, all while serving the community and gaining valuable life skills.
What do the 4 H’s in 4-H mean?
The 4 H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Our organization’s title is directly connected to our pledge:
"I pledge ... my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world."
How old do you have to be to join 4-H?
Our programs are primarily geared towards youth ages 8-18. However, we have ways for your 5-7-year-olds to participate as a “Cloverbud.” If you are older than 18 and still want to express the 4-H spirit, you can take advantage of our many volunteer opportunities.
How do I find my local county 4-H program?
New Hampshire 4-H is the youth development program of UNH Cooperative Extension, and our 10 County 4-H Programs in New Hampshire serving youth from all over the state. 4-H operates on many levels of the community. There are events, programs, workshops, and opportunities on both the County level and the State level (even the National level). Get started by finding your County 4-H Program here. Your county program is usually the county where you live, but if you are planning to join a 4-H club in a different county, that county program will be your home base.
How do I find a local 4-H Club?
The list of Clubs and Afterschool Programs on your County 4-H Program page is a great place to start. To get connected with a club, complete our 4-H interest form, and a 4-H staff member will be in touch to find out more about your interests and put you in touch with a Club Leader that fits your interests and location.
Who leads 4-H Clubs?
The best people in the world lead 4-H Clubs. No joke! 4-H Volunteers lead Clubs, and you can be sure they are truly invested in giving their attention and skills to your children because they do it for free. 4-H nationally gets over a billion dollars of time and expertise from our Volunteers every year. Why on earth would they do that? Because giving your children skills and opportunities is incredibly rewarding for them, and 4-H supports and empowers them to make the maximum impact possible. All 4-H Volunteers are supported by a professional staff, including your County 4-H Program Manager and Field Specialists who are University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension staff members.
What are 4-H Club meetings like?
4-H youth work on projects of all kinds within four general program pathways: Agricultural Science, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living, and STEM. Some Clubs specifically focus on one of these pathways. Other Clubs generally dabble in all four. Youth have opportunities to present and showcase their projects at the county fairs and other county, state, and regional events – but most of the learning and skill development happens in the Clubs. 4-H Club members build leadership by electing officers and conducting their own business meetings, work together on community service activities, meet new friends, and of course, have lots of fun.
What if I don’t necessarily want to join a club?
There are still many ways to be involved! 4-H is committed to bringing you programs wherever you are, and maybe joining a Club is not for you at this time. Youth and families who want to attend county-wide events and SPINs or work on 4-H projects independently are recognized as “independent members” or “participants”. Find a 4-H event near you or contact us to get started as a 4-H independent member.
How do I officially enroll in 4-H?
4-H Online is our official enrollment database. Registering in 4-H Online allows you to manage your 4-H clubs and projects, register your 4-H animals, and sign up for events. Enrollment as a club member or participant is required to register for your county events and SPINs. If you need help enrolling, check out our Enrollment Guide for NH Families.
How do I get involved as a 4-H volunteer?
There are many different kinds of opportunities to support 4-H through volunteering – see all of them here. To volunteer as a Club leader, project leader, or SPIN facilitator, there is a volunteer application and onboarding process. We are here to get you started and guide you through it – start by completing the 4-H Volunteer Application online.
Can parents be involved in 4-H Clubs?
Parents can and should be involved in 4-H Clubs. Speak to the Club Leader to define the best role for you!
How do I start a local 4-H group?
Screened 4-H Volunteers can start a 4-H group aka “Club.” There is a more involved orientation process for Club Organizational Leaders that is designed to bring their vision into reality and highlight the extra responsibilities. We are here to get you started and guide you through it – start by completing the 4-H Volunteer Application online.