4-H makes a difference for our youth


By Roberta Tolan

PREVIEW Columnist

What do Faith Hill, Julia Roberts, David Letterman, Temple Grandin, Reba McIntire, and Herschel Walker have in common?

Each is an American icon.

Each is known to be a consummate professional.

And each was active in 4-H when they were growing up.

For more than 100 years, 4-H has stood behind the idea that youth are the single strongest catalyst for change.  What began as a way to give rural youth new agricultural skills, today has grown into a global organization that teaches kids life skills.  4-H is dedicated to positive youth development and helping youth step up to the challenges in a complex and changing world.  4-H is dedicated to helping cultivate the next generation of leaders and tackling the nation’s top challenges such as the shortage of skilled professionals, maintaining our global competitiveness, encouraging civic involvement and becoming a healthier society.

Here in Archuleta County during the 2012/2013 4-H year, we had 138 youth ages 5-18 involved in six clubs. These youth worked with caring adults throughout the year learning skills that will benefit them through their entire lives. Yes, some learned how to raise animals for market or show and others learned how to build a rocket, create amazing photography, cook a nutritious meal or sew a piece of clothing.  No matter what their specific project interest, all of these youth developed social skills, learned how to present and speak in public, experienced leading their peers and running a meeting and learned the importance of being responsible and completing a task.

Over the years, 4-H has provided millions of youth with opportunities to develop their leadership, citizenship and life skills that have helped them become community leaders, successful professionals, astronauts, entertainers, professional athletes — whatever they dreamed.

Now, findings from a recent study led by Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D., professor at Tufts University, confirm that young people in 4-H Youth Development programs do better in preparing to be productive and contributing adults than their non-4-H peers. Youth involved in 4-H experience high levels of positive youth development and are more likely to contribute to their families and their communities.

The study, which was sponsored by National 4-H Council in Washington, D.C., is the first-ever longitudinal study to measure the characteristics of positive youth development over an eight year period of time. It involved more than 7,000 participants in 44 states (including Colorado) and measured the impact personal and social factors have on a young person’s development. Overall, study researchers are finding that involvement in 4-H makes a more significant difference in many areas of positive youth development than other youth development programs. Participating in high-quality youth development programs like 4-H plays a critical role in helping young people achieve success.

Study findings show that compared to their non-4-H peers, young people in 4-H are:

• More likely to report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, and an elevated level of engagement at school.

• Less likely to engage in risk behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, and drug use.

• Two times more likely to plan to go to college.

• More likely to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology. Girls in 4-H are more than twice as likely to participate in science, engineering, and technology programs as their peers.

• 3.4 times more likely to delay sexual activity by Grade 12.

• 2.3 times more likely to exercise and be physically active.

• 3.4 times more likely to contribute in their communities.

 4-H Open House

If you have children ages 5 to 18 and are looking to get them involved in healthy, fun and educational activities, come to our 4-H Open House on Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 4:30–7 p.m. at the Extension Office located at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds. Project leaders will be on hand to describe their projects, each club leader will be represented with information on their membership and meeting schedules and our 4-H coordinator, Becky Jacobson, can answer any of your questions about the 4-H program. Come and meet our 4-H family, enjoy some food and drink and learn about a program for our youth that really makes a difference in their lives.

Master Gardener Program

Calling all gardening enthusiasts: applications are now available for the 2014 Colorado Master Gardener Program.

The Colorado Master Gardener Program is a volunteer based program that teaches in-depth, science based gardening information to individuals who then pass along their knowledge to others through volunteer service. This 11-week course trains volunteers in the latest horticulture information so they can then teach Archuleta County residents how to be successful gardeners in Colorado.  Training is provided in all elements of gardening and includes over 60 hours of hands-on training. A passion for gardening and a willingness to share your knowledge is required but no previous, formal horticulture experience is needed.

To become a Certified Colorado Master Gardener you must complete the Colorado Master Gardener training attending a minimum of 80 percent of the classes and provide a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service before Oct. 31, 2014. The cost of the program which includes a four-color, 600-plus page manual is $275 and must be paid prior to the start of training.  Married couples who register together and receive only one copy of the training materials may participate at a reduced price of $445 per couple.  Partial scholarships are available through the Archuleta County Extension office and can be requested on the application form.  Those participants who do not wish to complete 50 hours of volunteer service may attend the trainings for the full registration cost of $625.

Classes will be offered beginning Thursday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and continue each Thursday through April 3.  Most classes will take place at the CSU Extension office at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, but a few classes will be taught in Durango to take advantage of local expertise. A complete training schedule follows:

Jan. 23: Program Overview and the Science and Art of Plant Diagnostics.

Jan. 30: Soils, Fertilizers and Soil Amendments.

Feb. 6: How Plants Grow.

Feb. 13: Vegetables and Small Fruits.

Feb. 20: The Science of Planting Trees and Lawn Care.

Feb. 27: Entomology.

March 6: Mountain Gardening and Herbaceous Plants.

March 13: Water Wise Landscape Design.

March 20: Plant Pathology.

March 27: Weed Management.

April 3: Pruning Trees and Local Program Orientation.

The Colorado Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program and provides local opportunities for trained volunteers to give back to the community. Volunteer opportunities are always expanding but examples include creating and maintaining demonstration gardens, working at the Archuleta County Fair, helping educate children about gardening, answering gardening questions at the Farmers’ Market and designing new gardening programs for the County.

For more information about the Colorado Master Gardener Program in Archuleta County, or to reserve your space in the 2014 program, call the CSU Extension Program at 264-5931 and complete the application form. Registration begins Oct. 3 and continues through Dec. 20.

CPR/First Aid classes 

CPR and First Aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.

We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations.  Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/First Aid and $55 for CPR, First Aid or recertification. The type of information provided will vary with the needs of participants.


Oct. 18 — 4-H Wolf Creek Wonders Club meeting, 2 p.m.

Oct. 21 — Back Country Horsemen, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 23 — Archuleta County Fair Board meeting, 6 p.m.

Oct. 23 — 4-H Council meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Colorado State University Extension is your local university community connection for research-based information about natural resource management; living well through raising kids, eating right and spending smart; gardening and commercial horticulture; the latest agricultural production technologies and community development.  Extension 4-H and youth development programs reach more than 100,000 young people annually.