by Sarah Weeks
Serving as a club that stays active in their schools and communities, the West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Collegiate 4-H Club began in 2005 with the hope of providing a club for students to do just that. Jodi Smith, the West Virginia University Extension Agent in Wood County, has served as the advisor since the beginning of Collegiate 4-H. “When I started working for WVU Extension Service in 2004, I recognized a need. We had colleges in the area and no collegiate club for our older 4-H members,” Smith said.
Collegiate 4-H participates in community service activities and practices leadership skills, just as the regular 4-H programs. The National 4-H/USDA says that 4-H clubs focus on leadership and professional development that ranges from participating in projects, educational workshops, judging competitions or service projects. Campus involvement is also of importance to collegiate 4-H by promoting positive youth development.
With a few community service projects completed, such as making cookies for The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the group plans to develop a plan to participate in community service, leadership opportunities and compete in state level collegiate activities this year. Already, the collegiate 4-H group at WVU Parkersburg has promoted the 4-H program at the college during 4-H Week, continues to work with the local 4-H program at a club level and has helped at 4-H camps during the summer.
By encouraging students to stay active in their community, Smith says the 4-H club benefits the college by promoting community service projects that will help students get involved. The 4-H club also offers students a chance to meet new people and achieve an attitude of service and leadership throughout their higher education experience.
Smith says the Collegiate 4-H club is a great way to meet people and get involved in the community by promoting leadership, service and professional development opportunities.
“4-H has provided a way for me to connect to my community and it’s members by servicing it and meeting their needs.” Smith said, “As a result, I have learned more about myself as an individual and my capacities to serve.” Whether students have any experience in 4-H or none at all, the 4-H club would make a great addition to any resume and students will always be welcomed and included in the fun.
The group plans to host an overnight event in February for teens to get involved in the 4-H program where they will focus on living healthy lifestyles. To get involved, students can contact WVU Extension Service at (304) 424-1960, email Jodi Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email the president of the club, Miranda Reed, at email@example.com. Students are encouraged to get involved and begin exploring their role in their community, country and world.