The University of Georgia Extension in Cherokee County has three facets – Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H, and Family and Consumer Sciences. Many people don’t realize that 4-H is the youth phase of the University of Georgia Extension. 4-H began as a club for rural children and was deeply rooted in agricultural and homemaking activities of children of the time. Over the years, as the challenges facing America’s youth have changed, so have the programs offered by 4-H.
Today’s programs are much more than farming and sewing and encompass a wide variety of activities for youth ages 9 through 19. 4-H is an educational program focusing on teaching leadership, citizenship, public speaking and practical life skills. Examples of programming for Georgia 4-H’ers include learning how to speak effectively, lead volunteer efforts, make smart consumer choices, enhance communication skills and make healthy decisions based foods and nutrition. The goal is to make learning fun. More than 800 Cherokee County young people participate in 4-H activities.
The objective of Cherokee County 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that enable them to become self-direct, productive and contributing citizens. This occurs through the experiential learning programs offered during or after school at 12 elementary schools in Cherokee County along with night meetings at the Extension Office for middle school, high school and homeschool 4-H’ers along with any child that does not have a 4-H program at their school. School curriculums range from language arts and public speaking, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, agricultural science, robotics, internet safety and educational partnerships with The Centers for Disease Control. Educational specialty clubs offered include the Cherokee Chargers 4-H Horse Club and the 4-H S.A.F.E. shooting sports program. Other educational activities include summer camp and summer programs.
One of the Georgia 4-H core programs is 4-H project achievement. 4-H project achievement is a self-directed individual competition. Youth starting at age 9 have the opportunity to explore an area of interest and share their knowledge through a competitive public speaking competition designed to meet youth development and age appropriate standards.
Project achievement is designed to showcase club members’ work and success in their project area. Projects are offered in more than 50 different program areas with nearly every topic of interest or educational area available for exploration and presentation.
Each 4-H’er selects a project area, produces a speech, posters and visual aids supporting his or her project. Cloverleaf 4-H’ers (ages 9 years through sixth grade) must prepare a five minute demonstration. Junior 4-H’ers (seventh and eighth grades) and Senior 4-H’ers (ninth through 12th grades) must complete an eight to 10 minute demonstration along with a portfolio. Portfolios are a collection of materials assembled to demonstrate to others what each 4-H’er has done in their project area, along with leadership and citizenship activities. Portfolios are judged before project achievement, and those scores are combined with their demonstration scores to get an overall score. At the competition, students present their demonstrations to a panel of judges and compete against 4-H’ers from other counties who have also picked that project area. first, second and third places are given out in each project category.
Project achievement ends at the district competition for Cloverleaf and Junior 4-H’ers, however, if Senior 4-H’ers place first in their projects, they advance to State Congress. State Congress is a four day event held in July of every year in Atlanta. This event brings together 4-H’ers who excelled in their project work from all four districts in the state. Here 4-H’ers compete for Master Status in their project by placing 1st in the state. State Congress also provides fun and educational experiences. 4-H’ers get to attend donor tours of local Georgia based supporters of 4-H like The Home Depot, The Centers for Disease Control, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia EMC and The Capitol, along with many more. Participants take a trip to Six Flags and project awards are given out inside Six Flags at the Crystal Pistol.
Project achievement for Cloverleaf 4-H’er will be held at Rock Eagle 4-H Center on Feb. 14-15, 2014. Junior and Senior 4-H’ers will have their chance to attend 4-H project achievement on March 7-9 also at Rock Eagle 4-H Center.
For more information about Cherokee County 4-H or to find out if 4-H is offered at your school, please contact Ashley Witcher at the Cherokee County Extension Office at (770) 721-7803. In Cherokee County, 4-H is supported by The University of Georgia, Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, and Cherokee County. Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website, www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee ; or contact the Cherokee County Extension Office, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 30114, 770-721-7803. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Follow Cherokee County Master Gardeners on facebook at www.facebook.com/cherokeemastergardeners for gardening tips as well as upcoming seminars.