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Hands-On Learning Through 4-H

Hands-On Learning Through 4-H

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“It is the goal of the national 4-H program to get children involved in hands-on tasks where they will be educated as well as learn to be involved in their communities.”
“It is the goal of the national 4-H program to get children involved in hands-on tasks where they will be educated as well as learn to be involved in their communities.”

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Published by: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine on Jul 15, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Hands-On Learning Through 4-H By Sonya Brouillette
As I sat down at my computer to write this article, I was bewildered by the challenge of adequately presenting all the opportunities available to our children through the
program. Livestock shows, sewing, cooking and nutrition, woodworking, photography, archery, community service projects, and puppet making are just a few topics that I can list quickly. I had the daunting task of organizing all of this information and presenting it in a way that seems easy to understand, yet not overwhelming. So I began to discern what would best way to describe the core belief of 4-H and why this
organization can be so very helpful to homeschooling families. That’s when I realized that
the majority of homeschooling families have the same approach to learning as 4-H does:
 “Learn by Doing.” It is the goal of the national 4
-H program to get children involved in hands-on tasks where they will be educated as well as learn to be involved in their communities. The 4-H program completes this task in diverse ways.
Livestock Showing
 “What are you considering for next year: Hampshire, Yorkshire, Poland, China, or Cross?”
This is coming from my 11-year-old son while talking to his friend. His brother chimes in
with, “I’m getting a Jersey heifer.” Then I get a message on my phone: “Anna Kate has decided on Buff Brahma Bantams.” Another message arrives: “When you order, could you get us a few Cuckoo Marans?” And finally this: “Madison wants standard co
Blue, White, and Black.” If you have no idea what all that means, you haven’t been introduced to the 4
-H Livestock Program. Children are able to raise goats, sheep, pigs, cattle (either dairy or beef breeds), and chickens to show at parish, district, and state competitions. These projects come with a book that shows how to care for and record your project. Livestock showing teaches responsibility, teamwork, healthcare, farming duties, and nutrition. We even have children involved who live within the city limits who can house and care for a rabbit or a chicken. These children know what types of pigs, chickens, cattle, goats, sheep, and even rabbits have won the show. They also know about animal husbandry details, such as care, feeding requirements, providing a steady source of fresh water, and history of the breed they have selected. The children showing poultry actually stand in front of a perfect stranger (also
known as the judge) and give a detailed account of their bird’s anatomy, history,
and proper
breed traits. It’s perfect practice for graduate school or job interviews.
They also learn to help one another. It is common to overhear a child say, “I’m going to help Harrison get his pig to the show ring.” Or “Do you need to borrow my water bucket?”
The interpersonal skills that these children learn are crucial because they equip them to work with others in so many practical ways.
Community Service & Government Involvement
Our 4-H homeschool club starts each month with a child-led meeting,
following Robert’s
Rules of Order, along with parents and local leaders. We have a president who presides over the meetings, a secretary who calls roll and takes minutes, and a vice president who presents a club activity each month. Our local 4-H leaders present a theme at each
meeting, along with a learning game. Our focus this year has been the environment. Our children have learned about wetlands, alternate energy sources, water conservation, and many other environmental topics. Some of our child-led activities have included making Christmas ornaments for our local
veteran’s home residents, observing worldwide penguin awareness day, making Valentine’s
Day thank-
you cards for the nurses at our children’s hospital, recycling projects, and
collecting items for our community food pantry. The children are encouraged to be valuable members of their community. The 4-
H pledge is as follows: “I pledge my HEAD to clearer
thinking, my HEART to greater loyalty, my HANDS to larger service, and my HEALTH to better liv
ing for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” Thus the 4 H’s in the
name of the organization.
Gardening & Horticulture
We also have a garden club that meets weekly, led by our local agent. He comes out for one hour each week to teach the children how to plant gardens, how to start plants from seeds, how and when to plant vegetables, which parts of the plants are edible, which soil types are best, how to fertilize, and when to harvest, prune, and compost. Gardening allows practical application of math skills, such as measuring distance between plants, measuring and charting growth rates, and figuring perimeter, area, and cubic feet of a raised vegetable bed or flowerbed. Our children are able to see the need for math skills and get hands-on experience in real-life situations.
Other Events
We have the opportunity to participate in many countywide activities, such as take-a-parent-fishing day, 4-H day at an LSU football game, cookery competitions, nutrition workshops, 4-H camp, junior leadership training, fashion shows, livestock shows, 4-H night at a professional basketball game, 4-H day at the capital, and any other activity the leaders may choose to organize for the children. We have an archery team, an air rifle team, a poultry team, and a fashion-design group. Any child and parent volunteer who would like to initiate a special club or team may form such with permission and the support of their county agents. The national and state 4-H programs have funding, so the cost to members is minimal. Our local dues are $5 per year. This includes the cost of all project books and awards, as well as
most events throughout the year. That’s a financial deal you can’t pass up!
 So if your children want to learn about animals, are interested in sewing or fashion design, are wild for woodworking or photography, are set on shooting air rifles or bows and arrows, or are poised for parliamentary procedure, then 4-H is an entity that will reap benefits for your entire family. 4-H Clubs are what you make of them. So call your local 4-H office to
see if there is a community or homeschool group in your area. If there isn’t, then create
one. You will be impressed by all the exciting times your children will have with their new 4-H club! Happy learning!
Sonya Brouillette is a veterinarian, but that takes second place to being a homeschool mom of Paycen (12), Owen (9), Landry (5), and a wife of fifteen years to her husband Marty.
There’s no better way to use her education than raising up her children in the way they
should go.

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