‘If life is a highway, 4-H teaches you how to drive’

  • Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photos provided Charleston Change 4-H’ers completed rockets during a training to learn how to utilize Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities to help military youth.

Photos

We’ve long heard of the benefits of 4H, but all too often associate it with learning to raise farm animals.

But today’s 4-H programs are a community of young people learning leadership, citizenship and life skills through varies project areas.

And for the first time in years, there is a 4-H chapter based out of Mount Pleasant with several clubs to meet different community needs.

Liza Campbell, the Charleston Change 4-H Parent volunteer, said that many community hands come together to make a difference locally and in our world particularly with their chapter’s local efforts.

Campbell got involved three years ago because her high school student was looking for community service opportunities.

Finding 4-H, she learned that they have a template for any kind of service project imaginable and it is the biggest community service organization in the country - even more so that Scouts.

This looked to be a perfect opportunity of all four of her children. The only minor setback was that there were no programs east of the Cooper.

Taking the bull by the horns, she formed a chapter and set it up to cater to home-schooled students like her own

They named it Charleston Change 4-H Club.

Through that effort, the club has grown and now reaches out to West Ashley, Summerville and the Miriam Brown Community Center.

It has been relaunched this year to include all students, home-schooled or not, between the ages of nine and 19.

This after school program meets at Palmetto Park in the Park Center once a month after school. Interested students can join online at www.cc4h.net for $15 as a new member and $12 as a returning member.

There are no badges that must be earned and no uniforms. Each service project includes the entire families participation as well.

For example, 4-H members and their families hit the street in search of donations to give the Mariam Brown Community Center a face-lift.

Sherwin Williams on Highway 41 donated the paint, and volunteers and club members went to work.

Campbell said that 4-H is not just about farm animals.

“There are over 50 curriculum avenues and subjects of interest from STEM to healthy lifestyles.”

Most 4-H members do not live on farms and they participate in contemporary projects such as bicycle care and safety, consumer education, aerospace and model rocketry, go-carting and animal sciences.

The chapter also, have a new Charleston County Clemson Extension Agent as well as many community service activities going on.

Another project the club is working on is collecting school supplies for a school in Rwanda. Campbell met Sarah Hipp, a 4-H er from North Carolina who started a school in Rwanda. She mentioned the school’s needed supply list, and the Charleston Change group went right to work collecting donations from boxes set out at each Kid’s Teeth location.

East Cooper Sporting Goods has donated soccer balls to the effort, and toys have been donated with the help of Pier 1 employees. Chick-Fil-A donated mini cows. Artist and Craftsman donated art supplies. Peace Frogs and Charleston Cotton Exchange donated shirts. Also, Clemson Extension Offices, as well.

“This program really does teach the kids to ‘drive.’ They come in timid and quiet and I’ve watched them blossom using the learning template,” said Campbell. “The kids are learning that one person can make a difference.”

And through it all, she explained, they develop social skills, public speaking skills, build portfolios and adapt healthy lifestyles.

4-H includes state and national events that include competitions from the club level on up. Winners receive recognition and scholarship money and “it’s good for teenagers because it ramps them up for the real world experience,” said Campbell.

Additional activities, training and summer camps cost minimal amounts, and scholarships are available.

Each project is all about coming full circle, Campbell explained. Participants learn by doing from the idea to the end result. And once you join a 4-H Club, you can participate in any other club.

The chapter is lead by Liza Campbell - Adult Leader, Health Rocks Regional Adult Trainer; Savannah Campbell - Assistant Leader, Health Rocks State Teen Leader; and Skyla Campbell - Teen Leader, Health Rocks Regional Teen Leader. Jennifer Schlette was recently named the Clemson Extension agent for the county. There are over 25 participants in the two East Cooper groups. Anyone interested in creating their own club can contact Campbell for assistance. For more information visit cc4h.net.

What is 4-H

4-H is the youth development program of the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. As an informal, practical educational program for youth, 4-H is where there’s fun in learning and learning in fun. (*4-H programs in the state are also offered via South Carolina State University.)

The South Carolina 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach.

The 4-H emblem is a green four-leaf clover with a white ‘H’ on each leaflet, symbolizing Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The 4-H emblem was patented in 1924.

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