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4-H members, leaders kick off a busy month
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi 4-H members and volunteer leaders are active every month, but the State Fair in October usually signals the pinnacle of their year.
“The State Fair provides many opportunities for our 4-H members to show off their livestock projects, as well as other projects and activities they have been working on during the last year,” said Paula Threadgill, associate director of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “The 4-H Village at the fair also highlights the opportunities available through the youth development program in Mississippi.”
The 4-H Village is open in the Trademart Building throughout the Mississippi State Fair, which takes place Oct. 7-18 in Jackson. Members of 4-H, along with their leaders and parents, qualify for free passes into the fair from the state 4-H office to attend 4-H Day at the fair on Oct. 17. In addition to animal project competitions, 4-H members will take part in public speaking contests, a fashion review, robotics contests, shooting sports and national youth science activities.
Threadgill, the state 4-H leader, said the program has three mission mandates: citizenship/leadership, healthy lifestyles, and science, engineering and technology.
“We provide positive youth development experiences through agricultural and environmental issues, communication skills, food and nutrition, energy conservation, health, leadership and citizenship,” she said. “These topics are covered through a variety of opportunities, including 4-H clubs, camps, special interest groups, after-school programs and other options.”
Threadgill said Mississippi 4-H reaches more than 66,000 youngsters annually.
“We could not do that without an army of adult volunteers who give generously of their time to help the youth members along the way,” she said. “Last year, we had more than 6,620 volunteer leaders who averaged 220 hours of time donated.”
National research programs estimate the dollar value of volunteer time in Mississippi at $19.35 per hour.
“That means our volunteers donated more than $28 million worth of service to the state’s communities in 2014,” Threadgill said.
Tammy Parker, 4-H agent in Alcorn County, said 4-H provides volunteers with challenging and diverse opportunities to help the youth of their communities.
“They participate in volunteer training, promote 4-H in their communities and recruit youth ages 5-18 to their 4-H clubs,” Parker said. “They provide leadership and motivation to young people to help them attain their goals.”
Parker said key attributes found in the best leaders are dedication, caring for others and the willingness to give of their time.
“A 4-H volunteer serves as a mentor and a role model to our youth. The dedicated volunteer understands the importance of maintaining a 4-H club and providing educational and fun opportunities for members,” she said. “Many 4-H volunteers are motivated by the desire to make a difference in the lives of young people.”
To becoming involved in 4-H as a member or as a leader, contact the local Extension office.