Community Highlight: 4H- Part 2
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Maddy: Hey everyone, welcome to PFCU’s Money Talk Podcast, I’m your host Maddy and today I have a special guest with me to continue the discussion about the 4H Program. In my previous episode, I spoke with Casey here at the credit union about her and her family’s personal experience with 4H so if you haven’t listened to that episode I would definitely check it out. And today were going to get a more general outlook on the program from Nikki and I will let her introduce herself.
Nikki: My name’s Nikki Hersch and I’m the 4H Program Coordinator for Shiawassee County and I have been doing this role for about 6 years now.
Maddy: Well, thank you for joining me on the podcast today, Nikki!
Nikki: Of course, glad to be here.
Maddy: So I actually spoke with a fellow PFCU employee a couple weeks ago, she is very involved with her kids in the Ionia 4H Program and she kind of shared her personal side of things and what her kids are involved in and I thought it was super interesting. I don’t know much about the program so I wanted to reach out to you to see if you could share a little more insight on your end of things being the coordinator and give just a little more information on the program itself. So if we could just start with like a general overview of what 4H is, maybe what it offers kids or those who participate?
Nikki: Kind of what is 4H which is a really broad question because 4H is a really broad program but it actually is America’s largest youth development organization so it empowers nearly 6 million kids every year which is a crazy number. But really what it’s trying to do is teach kids to learn by doing so very hands-on activities and really wants to get kids to develop those life skills that they’ll need later on in life.
Maddy: Wow, that’s awesome. I can’t believe, you said 6 million kids?
Maddy: And it’s across, you said across America right?
Maddy: Okay, cool! My husband and his brother grew up involved with 4H and I know the side of, like you hear about animal auctions and the showing of animals and that’s really all I know about the program but I know there’s so much more from what, I told you about that PFCU employee I talked to, she was talking about volunteering and some other things that her kids are involved with. Are there other aspects of 4H, other programs within there that kids can be involved with that maybe may not be so obvious or that people don’t realize are out there?
Nikki: Of course, so like you said a lot of people just think of 4H as showing animals at the fair and it’s a lot more than that. A lot of counties have programs based on like, STEM so science, technology, engineering and math, whether it be a robotics program or woodworking program, different things like that. So each county is really unique which makes 4H kind of a different organization than like you know, boy scouts and girl scouts might have the exact same program in every county where my program in Shiawassee county is a little bit more animal based but then there are some sewing clubs and we also have shooting sports clubs and a lot of different fields for the youth to kind of take advantage of outside of just that normal showing the animals and taking them to the auction at the fair. And even in that, when you’re raising those animals, you’re learning so much more even if you do just do the animal programs through 4H. You’re learning money management, you’re learning time management and really all those life skills that you’ll need in the future, so.
Maddy: Yeah that’s pretty amazing. I know we get, as a company, we get the, we always get the letters from kids asking to buy their animals and I feel like that takes a lot of guts for kids to go to businesses and to people and try to make that money. I mean, I couldn’t imagine doing that as a kid, you have to be kind of brave and I feel like that, that just takes some skills to learn and then you’re right that money management. I know a lot of them have their own savings accounts starting at a really young age because they get that money and they have to manage that and figure out what they’re going to do with it and be responsible with it so that’s interesting.
Nikki: Yeah and then you also brought up volunteering. That’s also a big part of our program, which that is going to be your adult side of things. Some youth do volunteer, obviously doing community service projects but we couldn’t run our organization without volunteers just because those are the people like on the frontlines running the camps and the clubs and all those different types of things and helping out with the fair and all other events that we put on so they’re definitely a big part of the program.
Maddy: Now can anyone volunteer? Like for me, my kids aren’t old enough, I don’t think, to be in 4H but could I go and get involved right now and volunteer in a program?
Nikki: Yes, of course! Anyone can volunteer, there is a process to become a volunteer, background checks and different things like that, just like volunteering with any organization. But yeah, anyone can sign up to volunteer with their local county program or for state wide events, they’re always looking for volunteers.
Maddy: Nice! Who can join 4h? Is there age restrictions? Any participation requirements that you have to meet in order to join the program?
Nikki: So there are age requirements, 4H is age 5 to 19. So at age 5 to 7, a 4H member is considered a clover bud so those clover buds do noncompetitive programs so they’ll be doing like crafts and stuff like that and it’s pretty much just gearing them up for their 4H career. They get to do all the fun arts and crafts and maybe show a chicken and do some smaller things but then at 8 that’s when you can start doing competitive and showing at different things and getting placings at your events. And then it ends at age 19.
Maddy: Oh cool, so someone could do it for many years. I didn’t realize it was that big of a gap. That’s awesome. Is there anything else that you’d like to share about the program? You’ve shared a lot of great information already.
Nikki: Yeah, just to, if you would like to get involved in the program the best thing to do is to contact your local MSU Extension program coordinator because they’re going be able to set you up with someone on a local level and really get to know you and find a good fit for your family and kind of what projects you’re interested in. And then I always tell people if they do contact me and there’s not a program that we currently have, to get involved as a volunteer and start those programs because if their kids are interested in it, there’s probably other kids in the community that are also interested in it and would love to learn about it, so.
Maddy: Cool! Awesome! Well thank you so much for joining me, that was very insightful. I learned a lot about the program that I didn’t realize and I think maybe it’s something my son would love to do in a couple years. I could see him getting involved with that. So thank you again that was great.
Nikki: Of course, thank you!
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