Missouri 4-H is a cool way for youth to learn a lot of things they need to know in today’s world and have fun at the same time, according to Karla Deaver, 4-H youth development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Involvement in proven programs, like Missouri 4-H, help kids to grow and develop into contributing, competent, capable and caring adults,” said Deaver. “There are a wide variety of reasons families get involved with 4-H.”

Following is Deaver’s list of the top 10 reasons to join 4-H.

Ten, 4-H is more than you ever imagined. “In 4-H, youth will prepare themselves for the future while making new friends and memories. Members can attend camps, display their project work at fairs, travel, host youth from other countries, attend events with other young people, and more,” said Deaver.

Nine, 4-H offers a great way to help your community. “Through 4-H experiences, members develop a better understanding of communities and how they can get involved,” said Deaver.

Eight, 4-H offers a great way for kids to learn new skills and explore different interests and career paths. “There are more than 50 project areas, from aerospace to woodworking. Science, engineering and technology are project areas drawing lots of interest. Interested in Robotics?  We have a project and a club for you,” said Deaver.

Seven, 4-H helps prepare kids for life.  “Our 4-H members from across the country tell us they have developed skills in leadership, public speaking, self-esteem, communication and planning through their 4-H experiences,” said Deaver.

Six, 4-H is a great family activity.  Participation in the 4-H program is open to all youth, ages 5-18 based on Jan. 1, 2017.  For youth ages 5-7 there is a special program called Clover Kids.  For those youth ages eight-18, they participate in the traditional 4-H program. All 4-H youth can participate in all sorts of fun activities. “Parents and grandparents can serve as club or project leaders, group leaders and meeting helpers. The most effective 4-H clubs are the ones that have lots of family involvement,” said Deaver.

Five, 4-H is an adventure.  Members discover the world around them and find new ways to see it – and themselves.  “Members learn how to think and act as a team member while working with others to accomplish goals. Members have the opportunity to build knowledge, skills and attitude,” said Deaver.

Four, 4-H members have life-long friendships.  Members interact with other members and adult leaders, sharing ideas and building lasting memories.

Three, 4-H is hands-on.  “The educational philosophy of 4-H is learning by doing.  Kids learn best when they are involved in their learning,” said Deaver.

Two, 4-H helps kids develop into well-rounded adults. “As the pledge reminds, 4-H is about head, heart, hands and health,” said Deaver.

One, 4-H’ers serve others, learn new skills, develop leadership abilities and gain more confidence in themselves and what they have to offer. “Through 4-H, kids have unlimited opportunities to make their place in the world,” said Deaver.

Residents of southwest Missouri can contact any of these 4-H youth development specialists and educators with MU Extension for  information:  Jennifer Hancock in Christian County, (417) 581-3558; Krista Tate in Howell County, (417) 256-2391; Bob McNary in Jasper County, (417) 358-2158; Karla Deaver in Lawrence County, (417) 466-3102; Mike Coffey in Newton County, (417) 455-9500; Velynda Cameron in Polk County, (417) 326-4916; Willa Williams in Taney County, (417) 546-4431; or Janice Emery in Texas County, (417) 967-4545.