Contributed by Mary Maurer

Muscatine County Extension Council Chair

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my community, my country, and my world.”

That is the pledge I took every month from age 10 to 18 with the Cleona Clover Leaves 4-H club.  I didn’t have to look that pledge up some 40 years later – I still remember it, and I’m sure every 4-H alumnus does, too. It’s how we lead our lives today. What a simple pledge, but with so much meaning with how to truly live and lead one’s life.

4-H is about helping youth find their full potential to be successful, contributing members of society. As a parent, it is how we hope to raise our children, it was an integral part of my upbringing, and it is why I introduced 4-H to my sons. It was where they could explore opportunities that were of interest to them. It allowed them to express their creativity, learn problem-solving skills, give back to their community, and help educate and show their fellow club members what they learned. They gained confidence and leadership skills that will always stay with them.

I recently reached out to friends and asked what they remember and enjoyed from their 4-H years. A few of their comments included how it was a very important of their family’s life and how it helped them develop lifelong skills. They loved the friendships they made through 4-H that continue today. For them, it was about living a good life, being a good citizen, learning life skills, and just plain, clean fun! Many continue to volunteer as leaders today and remain passionate about the program and the positive impact it makes on everyone involved.

October 1-7 is National 4-H week. 4-H began more than 100 years ago and has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. Today’s 4-H programming includes science and agriculture projects, healthy living projects, and citizenship projects. Members can choose to focus on one program area or try a variety of programs.

If you have a child in 4th grade or above, please consider helping them become involved in 4-H.  You will be helping them in ways that will shape their future. As a parent, 4-H allows you to become involved with your child, their friends, their leaders, and your community in so many rewarding ways. You, too, can be a 4-H leader and help our community’s youth grow and develop into their own place in our world. For more information on how to be a part of this great organization, contact your county extension office or visit 4H.org for more information.