4-H: Adapting to the ever-growing needs of Youth

Most people think of 4-H as youth at the county fair showing off their livestock and crops, people are not aware of other programs that 4-H offers – like the robotics. (Submitted photo/Lewis Perkins)

Established as an after school agriculture program in the early 1900’s, the 4-H Association has been dedicated to encouraging youth to thrive in their communities “… to develop the citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach.” Still noted for their agriculture programs, 4-H clubs around the country strive to create safe and comprehensive learning environments, to all their youth. The 4-H Association developed its name from its original motto that had four words beginning with the letter “h”: head, heart, hands, and health. Over the past hundred years, 4-H has expanded through the country. In 1978, 4-H came to Collier County, still dedicated to inspiring its youth.

One of 4-H’s aspiring youth, Bess Granholm, 16, has been involved with 4-H since she was a young girl. In the past, Bess has shown off her pig, Benson, in the county fair. However, more importantly, 4-H Collier has instilled values that she will use the rest of her life. Not only has Bess served in different executive positions in Collier County, such as president, she now serves as State Treasurer.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” Bess states.

Furthermore, in June, Bess has served as a State Senator and Senate Education Committee Chair in 4-H Legislature (LEG). In this event, youth learn firsthand how the state legislative process works. Participants are brought to Tallahassee where they propose, negotiate, and debate bills they have created, “tackling the nation’s top issues, from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy to childhood obesity and food safety.”

Although most think of 4-H as youth at the county fair showing off their livestock and crops, people are not aware of other programs that 4-H offers. Besides 4-H legislator, 4-H is dedicated to the changing needs of today’s youth offering hands-on programs in rocketry, robotics, environmental protection and computer science. This will give participants an edge on future job markets as they learn skills such as: how to build and program robots, use drones to create maps, but most of all, how to become robust leaders and give back to their communities. 4-H also offers in-school enrichment programs, clubs and camps. Most people do not realize that Collier 4-H is two different entities: “Collier County 4-H Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, raises funds, which it distributes to Collier County 4-H, (local programs), for specific programs and initiatives.” If anyone is interested you can contact Tish Roland, the leader of the Immokalee 4-H program at:, troland@ufl.edu, 239-252-4800 or 402-580-7669

With more than 7,000 participants, in Collier County alone, 4-H is dedicated to challenging children beyond standard education.

Lewis Perkins is special to the Immokalee Bulletin and can be reached at ibnews@newszap.com

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