The same ideals that have made 4-H one of the country’s leading organizations for youth leadership and development are now serving its members well during the global pandemic, says one of the organization’s leaders in Kansas.
Beth Hinshaw, the 4-H youth development specialist in the southeast region, said that the 4-H Pledge – a staple of the organization since 1927 – really is a guide for everyday living.
“I think that the 4-H pledge is something that we can live everyday to guide us,” Hinshaw said. “and right now it’s especially good.”
Broken down into parts, Hinshaw talked recently about how the pledge relates to current challenges:
“I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking…”
Hinshaw notes that ‘clearer thinking’ can relate to planning, organizing and solving problems.
“It’s about using knowledge throughout your whole life,” she said. “When we think about pledging our head to clearer thinking, that means we’re going to work hard at making good decisions.”
Hinshaw said continuous and online education is one example of how youth are adapting to new challenges. And, she adds, being home is an opportunity to learn more fully about projects they are involved in.
“In 4-H, we have great volunteers, but some of our youth’s work and practice has to happen on their own,” Hinshaw said. “We know this time is a great opportunity for learning, as well.”
“…my HEART to greater loyalty…”
“This is really about our strong personal values, including a positive self-concept and our concern for others,” Hinshaw said.
Numerous Kansas 4-H projects include showing compassion for others in the community; that commitment has continued during the current pandemic.
“We’ve seen some really wonderful examples of young people making masks for different organizations in their communities, writing letters to people in nursing homes or neighbors they’re not getting to see, and more,” Hinshaw said. “You can really brighten someone’s day with a letter or a phone call. We know that we have kids doing artwork that they’re sending to their local nursing homes. Sometimes you just have no idea the impact that something simple like that can really have.”
“…my HANDS to larger service…”
In-person community service and volunteer opportunities may be limited now, but Hinshaw said it’s a good time to plan for future activities.
“Our community service project, called 48 Hours of 4-H, is something we do every year at the end of National 4-H Week in October,” said Hinshaw, noting that the annual event is scheduled for Oct. 10-11 around Kansas.
“Now is a great time for Kansas 4-Hers to be having conversations with others in their club, project group or family about how we can serve our community, and what kinds of things need to be done.”
“…and my HEALTH to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.”
Beyond health, Hinshaw said this part of the pledge relates to “character, ethics, stress management and disease prevention.”
“Everybody is at home right now, so it’s important to think about how can we eat well and how can we get our exercise,” she said. “But also on that mental health side, how can we be connecting with people managing stress and doing those things that are going to promote our good mental health?”
To learn more about leadership opportunities for youth, visit the Kansas 4-H website.