2021-22 4-H reporter Hadleigh Bolton

Lucky Clover 4-H reporter Hadleigh Bolton

This week is National 4-H Week, which highlights the program’s mission and all the unique projects offered to children that encourage exploration of the world, cultivate lifelong skills and leadership development.

The first official National 4-H week was celebrated in 1968 and is now always held during the first week of October.

Each year, National 4-H Week has a theme. This year, the inspiring theme is "Find Your Spark," because 4-H is all about helping young people find the spark that lights their fire.

I know that 4-H has helped me find my spark. Before I joined 4-H, I was afraid of public speaking and got jittery every time I presented. Now, even though those nerves remain, public speaking is something I love to do! I am a member of my club’s public speaking project, where we write speeches and present them for a panel of judges every year. It is hard work, but I enjoy it. 4-H pushed my spark for public speaking into the light.

4-H offers a lot more programs than public speaking and leadership opportunities. For example, kids lead the club. We have a president, vice president, treasurer, and a whole team of officers under the age of 18 who plan and run our meetings. Even though kids have the main leadership roles, there are still important adults everywhere. Each project is led by an adult leader, and we have two community club leaders that help as well. These adult mentors are important in clubs.

4-H has agricultural roots, but it is not all agriculture anymore. Sure, there are plenty of animal groups: Cows, pigs, sheep, poultry, rabbits, goats, and more are terrific groups and experiences and what 4-H was originally about. But it has grown since its origination in the 1900s, when the idea of 4-H began due to a study that proved adults in agriculture were much less open to innovative ideas than youth.

Educators realized they needed a program that taught young people modern farming techniques they could take home to their family farms. This idea started off smaller, of course, in tiny little clubs scattered around the Midwest with names like The Tomato Club or The Corn-Growing Club. But it kept growing into what it is today — a program brimming with opportunities for bright young people with bright futures.

4-H is now America’s largest youth development organization with nearly 6 million members. And even if you are not interested in agriculture, there is still a project for everyone.

Clubs in California offer projects like sewing, public speaking (which I highly recommend), marine biology, veterinary science, photography, several types of arts, shooting sports and more. Not all clubs offer all of these options, which means that all clubs are unique!

To find your spark and a club near you, contact Andrea Hollister at aeborunda@ucanr.edu.

Next month, Xavier Lovering is interviewing Nolan Andersen, Lucky Clover 4-H Club’s vice president, to learn about his moo-ving experience in the 4-H cattle project and how it will affect his college decisions and his future.

When I think of a “spark,” I think of passion. I think of doing something I love so much that it creates a warmth in my entire body, and makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning and get right to it.

Local junior high students Hadleigh Bolton and Xavier Lovering are the elected Los Olivos Lucky Clover 4-H Club reporters who take turns reporting each month.