Building and practicing life skills in a 4-H club setting: working

4-H clubs provide an important learning experience for youth to build and practice life skills. Learn how 4-H club leaders can help youth gain skills in the working life skills category.

Michigan 4-H programs provide youth ages 5-19 a structured out-of-school experience where they can explore a variety of interest areas through hands-on learning.  4-H members gain leadership, citizenship and life skills through their involvement.  Many of the learning experiences provided are largely based on 4-H projects with specific interest areas of the youth including animals, science, arts and culture.  One important learning environment that is often overlooked is the actual 4-H club experience.  This series of articles will utilize the Targeting Life Skills Model to explore how 4-H clubs can integrate learning experiences that promote life skill development in the 4-H club culture.

This article by Michigan State University Extension will focus on the life skills category of Working.  The life skills identified under working include marketable skills, teamwork and self-motivation.  The following are examples of activities or experiences that 4-H clubs could implement to promote development of working life skills.

Fundraising campaigns
4-H club members can gain a number of valuable skills through the planning and execution of fundraising campaigns.  While most clubs use fundraising as a means to fund educational programming for their club, members may also gain a number of skills through the fundraising experience itself.  Club members participating in fund raising activities may learn customer service skills, how to handle money and working as a team to accomplish a goal.  Additionally, skills learned through a fundraising project with the 4-H club may spark the youth to explore entrepreneurship as a potential future 4-H project or even a career path.  Additional information about 4-H club fundraising can be found in the Michigan 4-H Treasurer’s Record Book.

Recreation activities
Recreational activities such as ice breakers and energizers are often times categorized as fun activities during club meetings, but actually serve a very important role in teambuilding.  Recreational activities provide a nonthreatening environment to get to know fellow club members.  Organized recreational activities can build individual and team communication skills as well as team spirit.  Get ideas to incorporate into your club setting in the Group Building Ideas for 4-H Club & Group Meeting Handbook.    

4-H club educational program
Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles state that “youth are actively engaged in their own development” and “youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.”  4-H members develop self-motivation within their club experience when they cooperatively select the educational initiatives of the club and carry out their plans.  Often the club members may divide tasks, giving each person a responsibility to report back on at a future meeting.  The members demonstrate self-motivation to carry out their assigned tasks to ensure they are accountable to their fellow members.

Group awards
Groups that work together deserve to be recognized together.  4-H clubs and groups are encouraged to explore the Michigan 4-H State Awards Program Group application.  This opportunity allows the club to submit an application as a group and select three members to represent their group during an interview.  The State Awards program group category allows members to demonstrate their teamwork ability to accomplish a task or project from planning through evaluation.  Members participating in the State Awards program gain skills in portfolio development, communication and interviewing.

Life skills development can be accomplished through nearly every 4-H experience.  4-H club leaders play an important role in helping guide the members of the club through the learning process.  The Experiential Learning Model provides leaders with a process for helping members make the connections between the learning experience, the knowledge and skills gained, and relevance of the life skills in their future.  Many of the 4-H curriculums and resources available to clubs will provide questions and discussion topics for sharing, processing, generalizing and applying that club leaders can facilitate with their 4-H club members.  More information on teaching life skills can be found at the MSU Extension Bookstore or additional articles in this series, including:

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