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Enrollment in 4-H happening now

Submitted photo Teens learn to properly and safely shoot a bow and arrow at a target at WVU Jackson’s Mill this summer.

BEVERLY — For thousands of young people throughout West Virginia, 4-H provides a creative outlet to learn new skills, make lifelong connections and encourage service to their communities. To emphasize this important youth development program, West Virginia University Extension Service joined 4-H members across the nation in celebrating National 4-H Week (Oct. 3-9).

In West Virginia, 4-H reaches more than 142,000 youths in all 55 counties through programs such as community clubs, special interest clubs, STEM education, in-school activities, livestock projects, and camping. Participants learn about a variety of topics, including health, citizenship, leadership and other important life skills.

Jeff Yokum remembers being a shy kid from Grant County who had a hard time making friends in school. His involvement in the local 4-H program helped him gain a strong network of friends and mentors, while providing him opportunities to grow his confidence and imagine a world he never thought possible.

“4-H helped me gain self-confidence, which led to the beginning of some lifelong friendships. It provided me with the first opportunity to travel outside of our area and see new, amazing things,” said Yokum, a 4-H alumnus who retired from the U.S. Secret Service. “Before retiring, I was doing some form of public speaking on an almost daily basis–learning how to look comfortable, even when I may be shaking on the inside.

“My experience with 4-H helped me project a necessary confidence. But even more important, I learned how to effectively communicate with people of different backgrounds.”

4H is delivered by Cooperative Extension–a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people from diverse backgrounds learn by doing. In West Virginia, one in every four youths is involved in 4-H. Youths between the ages of 9 and 21 can join 4-H with a parent or guardian’s permission.

Younger children, ages 5 to 8, who are interested in 4-H can join Cloverbuds, which focuses more on fun and social activities that set the stage for future learning. College-aged students also can join any of the seven collegiate 4-H clubs in the state.

“In addition to celebrating our 4-H’ers across West Virginia, we hope that kids and their families will consider joining 4-H through one of the many activities offered at both the state and county level,” Brent Clark, director of WVU Extension Service 4-H Youth Development program, said.

During National 4-H Week, a pumpkin painting enrollment event was held in Randolph County at 4-H Camp Pioneer in Beverly. Families had fun painting 4-H themed pumpkins, singing songs, and learning about the county’s community clubs.

Enrollment in 4-H is happening now. Contact the WVU Randolph County Extension Service at 304-636-2455 to learn more about 4-H and to enroll youth.

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