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Eight essential elements of 4-H

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

With National 4-H Week starting the week of Sunday, Oct. 7, a reminder of the 4-H pledge and the eight associated essential elements is in order. Essential can be defined as basic, indispensable and necessary. In other words, a foundation, without which, an entire system would collapse. 4-H at the national, state and local level rests its foundation on eight essential elements that are categorized around four basic concepts and linked to the four (H's) of the 4-H pledge.

Independence is a concept linked to "I pledge my head to clearer thinking" that includes 1) opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future and 2) the opportunity for self determination. Youth need to know that they are able to influence people and events through decision-making and action. While exercising independence through 4-H leadership opportunities, youth mature in self-discipline and responsibility while better understanding self and becoming independent thinkers.

Belonging is the concept linked to "I pledge my heart to greater loyalty" that categorizes the three essential elements of 3) positive relationship with a caring adult, 4) an inclusive environment, and 5) a safe environment. Youth need to know that they are cared about by others and feel a sense of connection to others in the group. This "fellowship" has always been an important part of the 4-H experience. 4-H provides youth the opportunity to feel physically and emotionally safe while actively participating in a group. Research identifies the importance for youth to have opportunities for long-term consistent relationships with adults other than parents. Research also suggests that a sense of belonging may be the single most powerful positive ingredient we can add into the lives of children and youth.

Generosity is the concept linked to "I pledge my hands to larger service" categorizing the essential element of providing 6) opportunity to value and practice service for others. Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. Participating in 4-H community service, service learning and citizenship activities allow youth to connect to communities and learn the practice of giving of self and resources. It is clear that these experiences provide the foundation enabling youth to see the "big picture" of life as they find purpose and meaning.

Mastery is the concept linked to "I pledge my health to better living" that includes the elements 7) engagement in learning and 8) opportunity for mastery. To develop self-confidence, youth need to feel and believe that they are capable and must experience success at solving problems and meeting challenges. Through exploring 4-H projects and activities, youth master skills facilitating positive career and life choices. A safe environment includes the ability to make mistakes and receive feedback in a positive manner beyond competition. The diversity of topics in the 4-H program must be such that youth can pursue their own interests.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.-purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming events:

October 7-13 -- National 4-H Week

October 8 -- Extension Office Closed, Columbus Day

October 23 -- 4-H Junior Leader Meeting, Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.

October 27 -- Coats for Kids distribution and Community Halloween Festival, Fairgrounds

October 30 -- 4-H Volunteer Meeting, Putnam Co. Museum, 6 p.m.

November 2 & 3 Extension Homemakers Past Presidents' Arts and Crafts Show at Fairgrounds

November 4 -- 4-H Member Achievement and Volunteer Recognition Program, Fairgrounds, 2 p.m.

November 12 -- Extension Office Closed, Veteran's Day

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