February 2007
4-H Extension Corner

Well, winter is here and we have been getting wet and cold. I hope that all of you are doing well and remember all of those folks out west without electricity and heat. Some will be out for weeks. Say a prayer for them and their livestock, many have lost animals due to the snow and ice. As Denver has been in the 5 and 6 degree range I am reminded why we love the South! Speaking of Denver, Alabama 4-H was represented extremely well on the National Level. Katlin Mulvaney was voted Miss Congeniality and First Alternate in the National Hereford Queen competition while Kindra Wood helped run the Angus events serving on the National Junior Angus Board. Congratulations and Thanks for all the hard work, we appreciate what you have given to 4-H in the past!

Alabama 4-H remains committed to responding to the changing needs and interests of our young people. Just as today’s kids need to build their skills in leadership and communications, 4-H is continually working to find new and improved ways to help them do that through hands-on learning challenges.

Perhaps no aptitude is more important to society than the ability to be creative and it is often said that "you can’t teach creativity." However, a stunning 95% of young people who participate in Alabama 4-H arts programs state that these programs have improved their creativity. This year, our existing arts and architecture programs, such as "Blocks Rock" and "eXtreme Birdhouse," have been joined by a new traditional arts program called "Alabama Quilters: The Next Generation."

Joining our Public Speaking programs is another traditional communications event. "Have I Got a Story!" allows young people to perform more theatrical presentations and encourages them to use their skills in their own communities. Our PowerPoint event continues to attract more and more participants, focusing on the theme: "My 4-H, My Community."

Alabama 4-H science and technology events have been repackaged to have greater youth appeal. The Plant and Soil Sciences endeavor has evolved into "Project Green Thumb," another opportunity for kids to learn while serving their community. The Wood Sciences Display and Wood Sciences events are now "What Wood U Build?"

The Electric Energy Demonstration program features an innovative challenge. "Electric Celebration" ask young people to use lights and sound to invent something festive, like an electric birthday cake or an electric 4th of July display. This project connects technology and innovation in a very effective way.

There are Alabama 4-H health and nutrition events such as "Chef 4-H" and "Healthy Living for Life." If their interests range elsewhere, from Adventure to Zoology, there is always a place for them to explore through 4-H Freestyle Demonstration or Exhibit.

Effective 4-H Club meetings are very important and over the next two months I would like to help you with a few suggestions on how to get more out of your meetings.

Club or group meetings are the cornerstone of the 4-H experience for boys and girls. Ask beginning members or participants what they like about 4-H, and they will tell you about their club, their new friends, new experiences, and fun activities. Well-planned meetings allow youth to:

• Acquire new knowledge and share ideas
• Develop self-confidence and leadership
• Participate in decision making
• Develop responsibility and commitment
• Make new friends
• Enjoy recreational activities

Setting the Stage

Young people like to be active and take part in the club’s program of activities. The volunteer can make it easier for them to participate by "setting the stage" for involvement and learning.

Pleasant Meeting Place

Ideal meeting places have plenty of light, comfortable temperature, and adequate space and facilities for planned activities. Room arrangement is important. Set the room to fit the activities. Youth need to see and hear everyone during discussions or demonstrations. Providing tables and chairs for officers may give them support and confidence. A flip chart or small blackboard may be useful to record ideas.

Comfortable Atmosphere

Young people feel best and gain the most when they are at ease. Youth need opportunities to get to know each other, to talk together, and to build trust. Get-acquainted games, team-building activities, small group discussions, and committee work are ways to create positive situations where members feel free to join in.

Feelings of Acceptance

Each person wants to be an active part of the group, but sometimes he or she needs help. Provide opportunities for members to contribute to the club. Many groups accomplish this by getting members involved through club offices, committees, demonstrations and talks, community service, fund-raisers, and group projects. The key is to enable all youth to participate with specific jobs and responsibilities.

Planning Ahead

The initial work for a 4-H meeting takes place long before the actual gathering. The planning committee develops a yearly plan in the beginning of the club’s year. This plan includes the: who, what, when, and where for club meetings and activities:

Who is responsible?
What is going to happen?
When is it taking place?
Where is it being held?

Advisors need to work with officers or committee members before meetings to help them prepare and complete assignment.

James Shropshire is the Alabama 4-H Regional Extension Agent for the Central Alabama Region. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..