One might assume that was written by a 4-H club leader. But it was quoted from one of our Cheshire 4-Her’s in their application to attend the 4-H National Dairy Conference this past October. As our 4-Hers reach their teenage years, they need more. More opportunities to learn. More opportunities to share. More opportunities to connect. And more reasons to stay with 4-H, when jobs, school activities, and social events dominate their schedules.
So what is there to keep Cheshire County teens engaged in 4-H beyond their clubs and counties?
Culminating events for project areas have always been a great way for 4-Hers to demonstrate what they learn and to receive feedback. This fall Cheshire County 4-Hers attended the Big E in Springfield, MA for their projects in horse, dairy, and beef. The Big E also gives 4-Hers ages 12+ the opportunity to proceed in their communication projects, be it photography, action exhibits, or speech.
On a state level, Cheshire County Teens recently attended the weekend-long Teen Leadership Retreat in Tuftonboro, investigating their personal leadership styles, sampling activities in STEM and AgriScience, and delving into discussions on aspects of adult mentor and youth relationships. A one-day Winter Retreat will invite NH teens for fun and social activities in February, and the annual four-day 4-H Teen Conference will bring youth together for workshops, group activities, and service.
Our teens now also have a great opportunity to be “Ambassadors” on a state level for STEM, Agri-Science, or Community (general civic leadership). With their cohort from around the state, they embrace opportunities to strengthen their own skills, plan events, explore career opportunities, present to other 4-Hers, and increase the presence and understanding of 4-H across the state. Throughout the year they become a tight-knit team, united together through similar passions and the ability to push each other out of the comfort zones of their traditional club model.
For those seeking a National experience, teens may apply to attend the National 4-H Congress (November), the 4-H Ignite Summit Series (March), the 4-H National 4-H Conference (April), or the True Leaders in Equity Institute (July). The application process is skill-building itself, and 4-Hers can attend the Marketing YOU trainings to learn how to craft their resume, write a cover letter, and present their best selves during interviews. If selected, close to full scholarships are awarded through the 4-H Foundation and the counties.
The themes of all these experiences for New Hampshire 4-H teens are the same: giving youth the opportunity to expand their boundaries, interact and learn with new friends, and identify their own strengths and the impact they can have on the world around them. Very worthy reasons to stay engaged as a teen in 4-H.
For more information, check out the New Hampshire Teen Leadership Pathway offerings.