4-H Group or Boy Scouts, Which One Would You Choose?

by Dagmar Bleasdale on April 15, 2012

Boy Scouts or 4-H? The choice was easy for me.

Landon started going to a 4-H group this week. We are meeting once a month right after kindergarten.

My wonderful, creative girlfriend – a talented floral designer – organizes this new 4-H group, her two little girls (Landon’s “sisters”) are in the group, I have some input, and we are meeting at a farm just down the street we love.

What is 4-H?

Typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, and life skills.

The 4-H emblem is a four-leaf clover with an H in each leaf. The letters in the emblem stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

HEAD – learning to think, making decisions, and gaining new and valuable knowledge.
HEART – being concerned with the welfare of others, accepting the responsibilities of citizenship, determining values and attitudes by which to live, and learning how to work with others.
HANDS – learning new skills, perfecting skills already known, and developing pride in work and respect for it.
HEALTH – practicing healthful living, protecting the well-being of self and others, and making constructive use of leisure time.

There are many aspects to 4-H, but I particularly like that 4-H is a part of the community. A club becomes involved with improving economic and social conditions where the members live.

And I always enjoy seeing the 4-H kids with their animals at the Grange Fair. It reminds me of the wonderful time I had during  the summers I spent on a farm as a kid in Germany. I’d love for L to have the same experience.

Landon — and I, who are we kidding here — will learn about planting and taking care of plants, taking care of animals, and much more.

It’s questionable that we will actually have some flowers sprouting in these containers in a month, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Is there an app for remembering to water plants?

We learned what the 4 H’s stand for, I read a story, and we planted the flowers. Then it was time for the kids to run around the farm.

We got our first look at all the new little lambs, goats, and calfs.

We are already looking forward to the next 4-H meeting. I’m going to read my favorite new kids book from the UK, Vegetable Glue by Sue Chandler, and we’ll be making veggie pizza.

Had you heard about 4-H groups?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel June 7, 2012 at 4:55 PM

And I forgot to answer your question about whether I’d choose Scouts or 4-H. I’m an obvious 4-H fan, but my kids were in Girl and Boy Scouts and I was a Girl Scout leader (we lived in a county that only had rural 4-H programming at the time).

Loved scouts, but given the same opportunity today, I’d choose 4-H. For one thing, I like that 4-H doesn’t discriminate. Even in my little rural town, I see 4-H kids working side by side and having friendships with kids very, very different from them, and that prepares them for the real world they’ll be living and working in one day.

In Scouts, kids dabble a bit in many, many project areas and their success in measured in patches. I like the more in-depth focus of 4-H in which kids spend a year or more studying just one or a couple of project areas. Of course, the little ones (under 9 in Michigan) do generally explore many topics, but by the time they hit full 4-H age most tend to narrow it down to one or a handful of interests. And I like that unless kids participate in fair or other competitive events, they do it without getting an extrinsic reward–and they don’t care! Again, cool that 4-H kids seem to love learning for its own sake.

BTW, I’m a new grandma and was searching for good blogs to share with my wonderful DIL and am lucky to have found this one!

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Dagmar June 8, 2012 at 2:35 AM

Mel, thank you so much for your comments! We are enjoying 4-H very much an will probably be going to our first fair in a few months. I used to love to see the 4-H kids at our Grange fair, and I’m glad we might be a part of it this year! Hope your DIL will like my blog as well :) Dagmar

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Mel June 7, 2012 at 4:08 PM

So glad you talked about the modern face of 4-H. What a shame that so many people still think of it as just about farming! The ag traditions are still so important, but 4-H has changed just as kids have changed. I’m in Michigan, and there are active, vibrant 4-H programs in the city of Detroit as well as the far reaches of the Upper Peninsula. Kids (urban and rural) are still raising livestock and cooking, but they’re also participating in citizenship academies, doing community service, and studying computers. A 4-H club from a tiny, tiny Michigan town just earned at spot at a national rocketry competition and set a national field record!

FYI: A recent study in California suggests that 4-H kids take more science classes in high school, and they are waaaay more likely to take AP classes than non-4-H kids. In Michigan, a study showed that kids in 4-H were nearly twice as likely as non-4-H high school grads to go on to college (or some sort of post-secondary education).

I think 4-H kids learn to learn, and they learn to LOVE learning. Plus it’s so family focused, and it’s no secret that when parents show an interest in learning, their kids value it too.

Lucky Landon!

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Katie @Pinke Post April 17, 2012 at 11:19 PM

I love 4-H and was involved when I was a child. I was my son’s 4H leader when he was younger. Now I can’t wait for my girls to be old enough to join 4H. Can’t wait to keep reading about your 4H experience.

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Jessica April 17, 2012 at 12:37 PM

What a great reminder. We had 4-H in the area of Oklahoma I grew up in. Now that I’ve moved away and have a family of my own I hadn’t even looked into this for my kids. Off to see if there is a local group…

I found you through UBP 12.

parentingwithresearch.blogspot.com

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Dorothy April 16, 2012 at 9:44 AM

My husband was very involved with 4-H growing up in Texas. One of the first things he gave me was a 4-H gold medal for sheep propagation. Talk about an unlikely tender token of romance.
Sounds like a great activity for your kids!

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Megan April 15, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Love it! I always wanted to be in a 4-H group when I was a kid, but never knew how to get involved. My husband grew up on a farm, so 4-H was definitely in his life. So great for your kids!

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Keli April 15, 2012 at 9:11 PM

I was in 4H from 6 yrs old until I graduated from High School. I loved it! It was focused on raising animals back then, and I took many blue ribbons at the County Fair over the years. I love their renewed focus. I hope that Landon will continue to enjoy 4H.

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Marie Johnson April 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM

I was in 4H as a kid and loved it most of the time. Now looking back it was a great experience and I did learn lots of things that I have been able to apply in my life. I will be putting my girls into 4-H when they are old enough too.

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