Empowering Students Through 4-H

Student: Mia D.
Fifth grader Mia D. shares teacher and student reflections on the benefits of 4-H.

Did you know that OCS fourth
graders participate in an organization called 4-H? If you were wondering what the four Hs stand for, they stand for thinking with your head, loving with your heart, working with your hands, and caring about your health. Fifth-grader Anna participated in 4-H last year. After being asked how she felt about 4-H, Anna explained, “I felt like I could have fun with my friends while doing lots of exciting activities. I feel this way because of all the group events and fun games that everyone can participate in.”  

Sister Mary Judit,h O.P., fourth-grade teacher at OCS, knows the impact of 4-H for her students. While interviewing Sister, I asked her if she ever saw change in her students after coming back from 4-H, and what that change looked like. Sister shared, “Yes, I see an increase in confidence in my students when they participate in 4-H. They learn how to prepare and present, and they experience both success and struggle. Many students are nervous before their presentations, but their perseverance allows them to fully participate. Their experience of struggle is perhaps more valuable than their experience of success because they learn how to ask for help, how to be patient with themselves, how to keep trying when they feel like giving up, and how to graciously accept defeat in a competition." With students competing at the county and state level, Sister Mary Judith encourages parents to have their children participate in 4-H for the kid-friendly and educational atmosphere.

Miss Hannah Decker is the 4-H extension agent who works with Overbrook Catholic. I asked Miss Decker how she started working with 4-H, and why she supports it. Miss Decker stated, “I used to be in 4-H when I was in school, and I learned many skills by holding an office and participating in competitions. When I got older, I wanted to be able to provide the same opportunity for my community. I support 4-H because it helps youth learn new skills in a positive and safe environment. 4-H empowers youth to grow in their leadership and life skills.”

At OCS, 4-H hosts three main contests: A public speaking contest, a poster contest, and a demonstration contest. In each of these contests, students compete against their classmates, and if you place in the top three in your class, you will have a chance to move on to the county contest. Sixth-grader Juliette is president of Student Council. Juliette ran for vice president in 4-H, and even though she did not win she explained that it still had a substantial impact on her role in Student Council now. Juliette won first place in the public speaking contest and second place in the demonstration contest. I asked Juliette what it was like moving on to the next part of the public speaking and demonstration contest. Juliette responded, “I felt proud, but also nervous that I would let everyone down.” Fifth-grader Sophie was awarded first place in both the public speaking and demonstration contest. I interviewed Sophie about what her favorite part of 4-H was. Sophie answered, “My favorite part of 4-H was all the different activities and experiments.” 

"4-H is a worldwide youth club that teaches leadership, citizenship, and service. Clubs meet in school and outside of school to compete in their subject areas and get hands-on learning experience,” Ms. Decker explained. “4-H is a fun and challenging organization that every child should experience,” fifth-grader Kinsley remarked. Youth who have participated in 4-H say that it is an amazing and fascinating adventure for all kids, and every child should have a chance to partake in 4-H.  
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