What is 4-H?
Although the 4-H program has been on Maui since 1918 (yes almost 100 years) the format and purpose of the program has been a mystery to many residents. The initial 4-H clubs focused on farming and introducing new agricultural technology. Other clubs taught home-making skills and were mainly separated by gender based on topic interest. Although the clubs had a content-specific goal, the new 4-H program began to incorporate training in life skills as a means to help develop youth into “contributing, productive, self-directed members of society.”
Curriculum and program plans include opportunities for youth to participate and develop skills in leadership, communication, decision making, problem solving, teamwork, cooperation and accepting differences. The key to a successful 4-H club is the 4-H volunteer leader.
A 4-H club is formed when an adult volunteers and is screened to be the club leader. A club must also hold regular meetings, enroll members each year (at least 5 youth from at least 2 families), and submit a yearly program plan and financial documentation.
The role of club leaders is to provide encouragement, ideas and learning opportunities, to recruit other volunteers to assist with club, to act as the link between the club and the county 4-H program, and to assist youth in developing life and project skills.
There are 3 levels of 4-H clubs: Cloverbuds (ages 5-8), Junior (ages 9-13) and Senior (14-19). Members in a Cloverbud club are not permitted to participate in competitive events, complete year-long projects, or have youth officers. Their focus is on introductory projects.
Junior and senior clubs have youth officers that run meetings, plan programs, and choose the project for the year. Senior club members may be asked to mentor junior clubs. Officer roles include President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Reporter, Historian, and Recreation Leader among others.
Curriculum and topic areas are varied and fall under the three mandates. Examples of topics for project plans include Aerospace, Small Engines, Robotics, Food Science, Cooking, Career Education, Veterinary Science, Cavies, Entomology, Public Speaking, and Leadership. Some clubs participate in the livestock council, which allows youth an opportunity to raise and show an animal.
4-H club members can participate in county-wide events that are open to all clubs such as the Maui Fair parade, a spring teaching demonstration, the yearly Tech Connect, and holiday-based activities. In addition, senior club members provide a youth officer training each year to prepare club members for their roles.