It is refreshing to see the July 25 issue of Fortune magazine focusing on the much-overlooked 4-H Club, a long-time youth organization, taking up most of two up-front pages including a dominant photo of two members showcasing their 18-month old bulls at the San Diego County Fair on June 29, notes Grumpy Editor.
The 4-H program, born in 1902, is a bit of Americana but gets surprisingly little coverage in print and broadcast media, especially in large cities.
Few realize that the 4-H (which stands for head, heart, hands and health) Club is the nation’s largest youth development organization.
The clubs can be found in every county in every state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands plus Army and Air Force installations worldwide.
While members’ projects used to focus mainly on raising animals --- from rabbits to pigs --- the program in recent years has expanded to topics of members' choice.
Modern 4-H members, usually nine to 19 years old, zero in on such categories as gardening, technology and Web design. And animals remain popular projects.
Fortune, a Time Inc. publication, points out there are 6 million young people enrolled in 4-H programs, up from 1.9 million in the 1950s.
The clubs, linked to university cooperative extension systems, are in urban neighborhoods, suburban schools and rural farming communities.
An Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University study finds 4-H members are:
- Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school.
- Nearly two times more likely to head for college.
- 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
- 25 percent more likely to contribute positively to their families and communities.
With that uplifting profile, more news editors should seek features on wholesome 4-H members in their areas.