Smart strategies for learning life skills

Learning skills for life can happen every day when you get involved with your local 4-H club.

Youth need opportunities to join others to learn and grow. One of these opportunities is for youth and their families to join a 4-H club program or event offered through Michigan State University Extension in their home town. Almost all of Michigan’s counties have a 4-H program coordinator who works within their county 4-H program. Youth ages 5-19 can become a 4-H member by joining a 4-H club.

Once youth become a 4-H member, the process of learning life skills begins. Iowa State University’s Targeting Life Skills Model centers around the 4-H’s: head, heart, hands and health. There are many more life skills to be learned, but this is the group that is highlighted.

As youth get involved in the club setting, they may say they are in the sewing club, livestock club or shooting sports club. That just tells others they are involved in one of the project areas. As we look deeper into what their project area really is, we begin to see what types of life skills they are learning. For example, in the sewing project, youth learn decision-making skills such as what do I want to make? How much do I want to spend on the supplies? How much time will I allow for the project to get finished? Goal setting is another skill to be learned at the beginning of the project.

Some short-term 4-H clubs or 4-H spin clubs only meet for six weeks and give youth a chance to learn about a basic project, such as food preservation. For example, these members will learn all about the food preservation process from start to finish, including the canning process, selecting fruits or vegetables to can, itemizing the cost per jar and comparing to the grocery store’s canned goods. Life skills learned in these short-term clubs can last a lifetime and youth become successful adults.

4-H gives youth a chance to open their eyes, look to the future and see what is out there to learn and join. To learn more about being a part of 4-H or to check out the local 4-H youth programs, visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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