The Bigger the Challenge, the Bigger the Opportunity
This year marks my graduating year from 4-H as a member. I was 9 when I joined my first 4-H clubs: Horse, Field Crops and Sheep. I am now 21 and as I look back, I reflect on my commitment to 4-H throughout high school, college, jobs, schoolwork, sports, moving and a full-time job. We grow by overcoming challenges and I have definitely grown through all my 4-H experiences so much that I am now a 4-H Leader.
According to 4-H Ontario, the average tenure for a youth is 3.7 years (2018), yet I was in 4-H for 12 years. Why do some youth stay in 4-H and some move on from 4-H after only a very few years? For lots of young people, there is pressure to get a job, combined with school work and other extracurricular activities. For me, my parents made sure 4-H was a priority. My dad was my field crop leader and all my siblings were in the club. My mom always said this is our time in life to be 4-H member and take advantage of as many 4-H opportunities as possible! So, I went to Career Mania and that was when I knew that I wanted more. I LOVED 4-H camps and made new friends that I still have to this day.
So, how can we encourage members to stay in 4-H longer? I think it is important for both parents and youth to understand the long-term impact that is possible through 4-H. For some parents, becoming a volunteer in their Association is a great way to start. I think that we should take on this challenge and increase that 3.7 year tenure to 10 years and more!