4-H is one of the largest youth organizations across the United States. 4-H is a youth development program found in every state through their Cooperative Extension Service. In Alaska, the Cooperative Extension Service is through the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). In a 4-H program, kids and teens complete hands-on projects in areas such as healthy living, STEM & agriculture, and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult and teen mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. 4-H stands for head, heart, hands, and health which are the four words that embody the vision of 4-H. Members learn to use their head and heart to guide them and their decision making, their hands to learn skills, and to positively impact their physical, mental, and social-emotional health.
There are many benefits to being involved with 4-H, whether you are a member or a volunteer. In Alaska, there are multiple statewide programs you can participate in if you are a member. While you can participate in traditional 4-H activities such as livestock shows and horsemanship, 4-H has diversified programs of youth interest. The Healthy Habits program is for members to learn about nutrition and food prep skills, as well as the importance of social-emotional wellness. The Computer Science Pathways is a program where the students can learn computer programming skills, problem solving, and communication. STEM is a big component to 4-H. The Alaska STEM labs allow students to do fun activities while learning. Youth in Governance is a Alaska program where students ages 13-18 can gain understanding of how the government works in a fun, engaging way. As learning by doing is the moto to 4-H, Shooting Sports is another program that teaches members how to shoot firearms and archery in a safe and responsible way.
In 4-H, you will have a club that you join that has a leader(s) who works with the Cooperative Extension to run the program. Clubs are based on your location. For Alaska, there are several regional clubs. You can find a 4-H club covering the Anchorage area, Bristol Bay, Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su & Copper River, Tanana & Interior, Sitka, Southeast, Bethel & Kuskokwim, and the Bering Strait/Nome/Kotzebue area. 4-H is dependent on the amazing adult volunteers who help run clubs, events, camps, and other activities. If you want to learn more about becoming a 4-H member or volunteer, visit http://www.alaska4h.org/ .