Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tennesee 4-H: Building Assets in 330,000 Youth Across Tennessee

University of Tennessee Extension 4-H Agents speak up about ways they are building assets in youth across middle Tennessee and around the world.

“In 4-H, youth have the opportunity to participant in activities in which they use their time constructively.” (Vicki S. Lofty, 4-H Agent in Marion County) 4-H offers youth programs in every county in middle Tennessee, engaging more than 330,000 youth across the state. These vibrant clubs engage youth in meaningful opportunities for learning and growth through hands-on activities, service-learning projects, exploration, youth-adult partnership and creative learning opportunities.

4-H encourages students in grades 4-12 to select project areas (technology, public speaking, performing arts/recreation, and the more traditional projects like clothing/textiles and livestock). “This helps youth develop new ways of learning materials and gain new skills” (Melissa Henry, 4-H Agent in Putnam County)

This is perhaps the strongest asset-building element of the 4-H program, as 4-H Leaders are constantly challenging youth to be active citizens and leaders in their clubs, their community, and even their world. Here are some of the ways staff empower youth:
o “We are committed to the 4-H slogan, "Learn by Doing". We empower youth to interact with parents and community leaders as they learn a new skill or subject. Then they are encouraged to use their learned skills and teach others as they are developing their leadership skills. We also help youth to give back to the community by assisting with and allowing them develop and design citizenship projects.” (Christina Carr, 4-H Agent in Clay County)
o “Every club is encouraged to provide a service to the community. The service-learning projects “help youth feel empowered to make a difference.” (Renee Badon, 4-H Agent in Dickson County)
o “We promote empowerment through youth voice. We engage youth through our regional and state councils.” (Justin Crowe, Extension Specialist in the State 4-H Office)

Youth are continuously put in situations to test their knowledge and let them ‘show their stuff’’ in a space place with encouraging adults who are quick to give positive feedback and support. “Youth in 4-H are encouraged to participate in activities that will create
positive identity and self-confidence in themselves.” (Annette Cole, 4-H Agent in Stewart County)

o “4-H Clubs teach young people many life skills by teaching communication, ethical decision making, leadership, etc.” (Carol McDonald, 4-H Agent in Smith County)
o “We offer programs in the schools to help youth get a better understanding of issues such as nutrition, manners, or public speaking. Our topics are endless.” (Lara savage, 4-H Agent in Franklin County)
o “We allow each student in the class to share in order for them to develop public speaking skills and confidence.” (Janae cook, 4-H Agent in Trousdale County)

Find out more at, or call an Extension Agent in your local area.