In Emmet County, as in rural counties throughout the nation, it feels like the week of the fair is 4-H Week. We get to celebrate the livestock, plants, clothing selection, static projects, performances, and other evidence of our local youths' hard work.
The fun doesn't end there. Oct. 5 is National Youth Science Day. 4-H youth participate in the world's largest, youth-led science experiment called Motion Commotion, to learn about physics, speed and safety.
4-H, the nation's largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation's Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries.
The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
That's great news for our community, coming on the heels of MOCSY's news that more of our eighth graders are more teens are engaging in binge drinking and other risky behaviors even as we work to reduce the likelihood that they will make those choices.
When we think of developing a positive environment for our young people, we talk about alternatives to parties where alcohol and drugs are involved. It occurs to us that 4-H, with its practical skill building activities, meaningful leadership roles, and connection with caring adults, might be one answer to the question.
We think of 4-H in farming communities like ours, but there are 540,000 volunteers, 3.500 professionals and more than 600 million alumni of 4-H programs around the world.
4-H is now striving to double the number (which now stands at 500,000) of non-U.S. young people involved in 4-H) by this coming year. Beyond the 4-H activities we think of, 4-H programs in Asia and Africa are mobilizing young people to build a sustainable, food-secure world. According to experts, food production must double by 2050 to meet the current rate of population growth.
4-H is fun. 4-H is a place to make friends and learn new skills. On the large scale, 4-H could secure the future for all of us.