Tell Me About It: 4-H more than a project

March 3, 2013

1. What does 4-H stand for, anyway?

The four Hís are head, heart, hand and health. The basic concept behind that is that it is a free educational program through Ohio State University Extension. It is your head that makes good decisions based on your interests which comes from your heart and using your passion to decide on things you want to explore and expand on. Then you use your hands to do your project and learn. Then you use what you learned to improve your life and your health.

2. How did you get involved with the 4-H Club?

I started when I was 9. The 4-H educator at the time asked if my parents would be willing to be 4-H advisers in the area. It started with my oldest brother, and then we ended up being a 4-H family. Then my parents were advisers, and we had a 4-H Club. From there, all four of us kids took 4-H projects. I continued with it and raised our children with it. Iíve been advising about 15 years.

3. What does being an adviser involve?

Advising involves the whole picture of 4-H. Basically, you take a child or family that is interested and help them in choosing an interest area or project. Then you help them set goals for that project and meet those goals. If they want to be judged at end of project, they can go to a county or even state judging, but there is way more than doing your project in 4-H. We like to see kids continue and advance in their interest area, and we also like to help them leadership skills. In forming a club, there are officers, and the kids run the meeting. They participate in community service. The older kids help the younger kids. They have the opportunity to go to 4-H camp, and older ones can participate in different leadership camps. They can also earn scholarship money. Itís something that grows with the child. Thereís something available for any child. 4-H goes from age 9 to 19. Actually, I think the age now is 8 or completed third grade.

4. What kind of club do you lead?

Iíve been an adviser in different clubs. Our older kids showed sheep, so I was in that. Currently, Iím an adviser in Westside 4-H Club, and we are whatís called a miscellaneous club. So, we have a few in livestock, but it ranges from cake decorating to robotics. We have a very large club currently in the Shawnee area. Last year, our enrollment was about 65. There are so many clubs though throughout the county.

5. Can you explain how the clubs are organized?

Some clubs are by location, but many kids choose to go to clubs based on what theyíre interested in. Clubs can be divided up into locations or interests. In animals, itís nice to be in a specific club. The amount of information shared really helps. Clubs can have as few as five to 10 members or it can go as large as the number of advisers you have to lend support.

6. Whatís the most challenging part?

Fitting in all the kidsí interests. It really is a family project. Itís something where families can work together to complete these projects. Itís a hands-on learning experience. They get to learn what it is to fill out that book, make a poster, and then sit through an interview. Again, the challenge is wanting others to know how much fun 4-H is. Itís not just animals Ė itís any interest area.

7. Whatís the most rewarding part?

I love watching the kids come through it and realizing their experience in 4-H has made an impact on their life. Actually, many kids who have come through 4-H end up choosing a profession or direction in their adult life based on their experiences they had in 4-H.

8. How can kids get involved in 4-H?

Contact our county 4-H extension office. Our current 4-H extension educator is Tracy Orians. They can call her at 419-879-9108, or email her at They will let you know what clubs are in your area, meeting times, interest areas and contact information.