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One solution to bullying? Get your kids into 4-H

We hear a lot these days about bullying.  Many adults can relate to being picked on and bullied to some extent when they were younger. I experienced some of that as well.

One thing that helped me tremendously was being involved in 4-H. Bullying isn’t tolerated in 4-H. Instead, I found acceptance, encouragement and lots of new friends. Some of those friendships continue to this day and I value them very much.

4-H is very intentional in developing and offering programs and activities that foster positive development in youth age 5 to 18. Children have fun participating in various activities and learn by doing. They learn about leadership, citizenship, science, technology, health, nutrition, engineering, horticulture, safety, money management, art, agriculture, and a host of additional topics.  

4-H builds confidence and self esteem. One parent told me he so appreciates how his children are learning to follow instructions and conduct themselves in public by participating in 4-H. Communication Arts programs help youth learn to express themselves by speaking in public and giving demonstrations.

Children develop strong friendships with other youth. Older youth often mentor and guide younger children. Older youth are encouraged to participate in leadership roles as they work side by side with adult volunteers and Extension staff.  

Studies show children who participate in 4-H get better grades, are more likely to volunteer to help others and are more active in their communities. They are also less likely to participate in risky behavior such as taking drugs. Wouldn’t that be a great thing for your school age child?

This week, October 7-13, is National 4-H week. I encourage you to contact your local county Extension Office to learn how you can enroll your son or daughter in 4-H. It will be good for you and your children.

Lynn W. Carlson ,of Mandan, N.D., is a 4-H adult volunteer who helps out in area counties and a former Extension educator with the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service.