Sunday, December 12, 2010

4-H does that? Great!

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Though I grew up rural, I never got into 4-H.  We didn't have land, and we were never an animal-husbandry type family.

As an adult, however, I've become very interested in the agrarian life, and how it can apply to my own condition (if you are interested in reading about my semi-urban homesteading attempts, please read my other blog, Agrarianista).  Most recently, I applied for (and I believe, subsequently did not get) a position with the Sacramento County 4-H.

I was interested in all the work they've done providing experiences to young people, and in researching today's 4-H, I was very impressed with the types of activities and roles they offer kids from pre-school through high school.  4-H focuses on getting kids to "learn by doing", a model for teaching that is dear to my heart, and also an effective pedagogy.  Today, 4-H works to get to urban youth as well as rural kids, with programs that give children the opportunity to practice environmental sciences and sleep out under the stars, as well as learn agricultural and homesteading skills.

Of course, I am especially impressed with the 4-H Shooting Sports category.  I've been interested in getting young people involved in shooting, but without the politics associated with the groups who offer such services, and 4-H offers just that:  the opportunity to teach kids how to shoot and how to interact with the outdoors (both the wild and the farmland), while giving them the breathing room to enjoy the experiences.

If you are interested in passing on your knowledge about the wild, about farming and food, about the interconnectedness of the urban, rural, and wild places, then contact your local 4-H and volunteer today.


NorCal Cazadora said...

I was a 4-H kid, and it is an amazing program with way more to offer than animal husbandry training. Though I focused on animals (raising rabbits), I learned a lot of business skills, public speaking skills (we did regular radio appearance) and volunteerism.

It wasn't until much later in life that I learned the deeper value of 4-H. I was 29 and I went to Estonia to write about an American military vet who'd returned to his native Estonia after the collapse of the Soviet Union to help westernize that nation's military.

He said most of his efforts were focused on changing the mindset of a people who'd never experienced self-governance. As a result, he focused a lot of attention on boys and girls clubs to help instill that mindset in them.

Opponents of the mindset would call it indoctrination, and they would be correct. But when I looked back on my indoctrination as a 4-H kid, I finally realized how much that organization had affected my life. It was pretty amazing - and I feel I am a better person for all of it.

Josh said...

That's great, Holly!

I've heard the 'indoctrination' line before, and it's full of crap. All kids are indoctrinated, we have rules and mores that bind our society, and pretending that we don't just hides the indoctrination that is inevitably occurring when parents and the community raise children.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I agree!