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4-H and Community Service

For Sussex County 4-H clubs community service is a year round part of their program. While 4-H clubs focus on learning activities, developing skills and just having fun, participating in community service is an integral part of the 4-H experience.

Each year several clubs participate in activities that reach out to our community members. Some clubs have organized letter drives or sending care packages to our troops overseas. Others have worked closer to home taking on food or clothing drives. Several 4-H clubs visit with the elderly in local homes bringing along their pets/4-Hproject animals including dogs, rabbits, hamsters, baby pigs and even sheep and goats. It can be awkward to strike up a conversation with someone new, but bringing along an animal is often a great way to break the ice!

Through community service 4-H members come to appreciate the broad range of people in their community including those who may be in need of food, clothing or companionship. In doing this they gain a better perspective for where they fit and what their role can be in the community. They see that by reaching out to others, they themselves grow. It’s easy to become wrapped up in school, sports, games and other activities. The value of stepping outside these experiences to acknowledge the lives and needs of others is a practice that should never be overlooked or under valued. Time and again our 4-H clubs practice community service by acting with their head, hands and heart for the health of our community.

Often the focus of community service is on the recipient, but really the 4-H members gain as much or more from the experience. They learn that a community is made up of many different people in different circumstances and that all has something to contribute. This is a lesson that can’t be learned from media or in a classroom—it is best learned through direct experience. The understanding gained from community service may last a life time. A small effort by 4-H members today may provide a sense of charity and community that lasts a lifetime.

Sussex County 4-H honored its volunteers at a traditional turkey dinner at the Baleville Church. Prepared and enjoyed by volunteers, it was an opportunity for those who dedicate much of their time to the 4-H program to socialize and share in the achievements of other 4-H volunteers. Sussex County 4-H Advisory Committee Chair Lois Chammings noted that many of the volunteers present had came through the Sussex County 4-H program. She reflected that these volunteers represented a harvest of 4-H youth that were leading the next generation. Clearly the lessons of volunteerism and community service have taken root here in Sussex County.

Our goal in 4-H is to assist youth in becoming competent, caring and compassionate members of society. Participating in community service is just one way 4-H members work towards this goal.