4-H teaches learning as a lifetime skill

Education is a fundamental element to the betterment of our world. By educating ourselves about a variety of topics, we have the ability to make informed decisions and live productive, responsible lives.

As someone concerned with positive youth development, I look to promote ways we can inspire youths to learn. The 4-H program puts an emphasis on teaching youths the importance of self-learning.

Self-learning allows youths to educate themselves based on their interests. The Colorado 4-H program has a wide diversity of projects to choose from. From woodworking, ceramics, artistic clothing, scrapbooking, gardening, entomology, robotics, livestock and many more other projects, 4-H can provide that spark to a lifelong self-learning journey. After choosing a project, 4-H members receive a record book and manual for their specific project.

The record book is used to monitor the progress of the project and ensure certain learning objectives are met. The manual is used to assist in this process with providing essential information about a project. In addition, youths can seek out more information through local leaders, 4-H trainings and personal research. It is then the youth’s responsibility to complete the project and submit the record book and display a piece of work (bread, welding item, etc.) at the La Plata County Fair. Youths will also have the opportunity to be interviewed and give an illustrated talk and/or demonstration about their project to evaluate their learning.

Many projects have different levels or units. This allows for the learning objectives to be met gradually and with greater success. It is really amazing to witness the progression of a youth’s project from year to year. It is even more amazing to see the personal growth youths make from year to year in their ability to communicate and articulate their self-learning.

This year, we are very excited to be getting new project manuals. These new manuals have the most up-to-date information and resources regarding 4-H projects. I am really impressed with the career development and marketing resources most manuals provide for members who are interested in taking a project to a more entrepreneurial level.

It is also great to announce that the old in-stock project manuals at the state 4-H office have been diverted from going to the landfill. I was able to work with my state 4-H adviser and my connection with the African Library Project to have the manuals sent to the country of Lesotho in southern Africa. These manuals will benefit many libraries throughout Lesotho with practical livestock manuals to assist people in their own self-learning. The Lesotho people still live an agrarian lifestyle, and these manuals will make a great difference by promoting literacy, reading and humanitarianism.

The African Library Project does a wonderful job coordinating book drives in the U.S. by partnering with African schools and villages to start small libraries. If you or anybody you know would like to start a book drive to make a difference and start “changing lives, book by book,” please visit its website at www.africanlibraryproject.org

felsengh@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.