Traveling with 4-H: Not just your average road trip

Youth learn much more than just project knowledge on 4-H trips.

For many youth involved in 4-H, traveling to various events becomes quite common. Some trips may be short, only an hour or two drive, while others may take much longer, crossing several state or country lines to reach the final destination. Through all of these miles and hours on the road or in the air, youth have the opportunity to learn a great deal about themselves, their peers and the volunteers they travel with. These experiences help to set 4-H members up for success by opening their mind to new experiences, people and locations outside of their own home.

4-H members take trips for multiple purposes. Some are trips to educational contests, such as the Junior Dairy Management Contest or 4-H and FFA Dairy Forum held during the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; others are to youth conferences, like the National 4-H Dairy Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, or the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.; while others may be to different parts of their home state for camps, such as Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp or 4-H Animal and Veterinary Science Camp. Whatever the reason, the time spent traveling affords youth the opportunity for conversations they might not otherwise engage in with peers and adults. They are able to better know and understand other club members from their counties or different parts of the state en route to the event. The travel becomes a unifying experience for the group as they laugh, learn and perhaps troubleshoot new routes or unexpected changes in during the trip.

The events themselves provide numerous opportunities to grow and refine skills, generally in a specific project area, such as animal science or leadership and citizenship. At the same time, youth are simultaneous developing life skills, like independence and confidence, which will serve them throughout the rest of their lives. They are also engaged in global and cultural education as they meet new people, see new parts of the world and appreciate both the many similarities and differences that exist.

Traveling with 4-H provides youth a safe and supportive environment to break out of their comfort zone and explore something new. These trips may inspire future educational or career choices as horizons are expanded to the endless possibilities that exist in the future. 

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