All About the 4-H/Youth Program
Four-H is the only university-based youth development program in the nation. It is an educational activity for youth sponsored cooperatively through the US Department of Agriculture, the University of Florida, and Pasco County.
Four-H is a fun, educational program for young people ages 5-18. Four-H provides educational experiences through a "learn by doing" approach and helps young people acquire knowledge, develop life skills, and form attitudes to enable them to become self-directed, productive, and contributing members of society.
Since 1909, the 4-H program has been geared toward the positive development of the "Head, Heart, Hands, and Health" of our youth. The 4-H program is the largest educational youth organization free to all participants.
There could be a 4-H club in your neighborhood....or you could start one yourself. To learn more about being a member of 4-H or being a leader of a 4-H club, give us a call any weekday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the following numbers:
west office: 727-847-8177
east office: 352-521-4288
central access: 996-7341, ext. 4288
What's so special about 4-H
In 4-H young people have the opportunity to "experience" through "hands-on" learning and discovery in project areas such as foods and nutrition, sewing, hiking, citizenship, community service, photography, large and small animals, lap animals, horses, and more. Older 4-H members develop leadership skills by assisting and instructing younger 4-H members under the guidance and leadership of volunteer adult leaders. Four-H is also a family affair, involving the total family in the various 4-H projects, events, and activities.
4-H youth get involved through a variety of avenues
There are traditional 4-H clubs that meet around the county in leader's homes, community recreation centers, schools, churches, and the 4-H Center housed at the Pasco County Fairgrounds. Clubs are organized by volunteer leaders, youth officers are elected and run the club meetings. Other volunteer leaders serve as project leaders and resource leaders to help the members learn about their project areas.
Materials developed by the University of Florida are provided via the County 4-H Office to schools and teachers as part of the School Enrichment Program. These include programs such as:
- 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking Contest (grades four, five and six)
- seventh and eighth grade public speaking high school public speaking.
- storytelling contest (middle school through high school)
- 4-H Trash-To-Treasure Contest
- other curriculum in environmental education, clothing, foods and nutrition, and much more.
Special interest programs offered periodically by the county staff are short-term, subject matter specific programs such as Horticulture Judging, Hog and Ham Judging and Wildlife Judging.
Older 4-H members have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and learn more about their community through citizenship projects. Travel experiences include three week-long programs (1) 4-H State Congress at the University of Florida; (2) State 4-H Legislature at the state capitol and Florida State University in Tallahassee; and (3) Washington FOCUS in Washington, D.C.
Clubs and Projects
There are approximately 33 4-H clubs throughout the county focusing on the areas of beef, swine, horses and goats, to poultry and rabbits. Other activities include citizenship, foods and nutrition, clothing, and public speaking.
Youth can participate in several hundred different project areas: citizenship, communications and expressive arts, performing arts, visual arts, photography, child care and babysitting, natural resources and environmental education, recycling, gardening and ornamental horticulture, and much more.
Adults gain leadership experience and training when they become 4-H leaders. Adults interested in serving as club leaders go through an extensive screening process: application form, background check, interview, reference check, and orientation before becoming involved with youth. A yearly mandatory leader training is conducted at the county level. Adult volunteer leaders are encouraged to attend the State 4-H Leader Forum as well as the Regional 4-H Leader Forum to increase their leadership skills, gain ideas from other leaders, and get reinvigorated in the program.
Funding is multi-faceted. Pasco County 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service and receives funds for programs, support materials and staff from the US Department of Agriculture; the state land-grant university; the University of Florida; and the Pasco County Board of Commissioners. The Pasco County 4-H program is a not-for-profit organization with the Pasco 4-H Foundation, Inc. that provides financial support for youth and leaders to attend educational programs.