LaGrange County 4-H leaders are hoping home school families will add 4-H as an informal education option in their lessons. Enrollment in traditional 4-H club projects is underway for the 2013 program, and youth in grades 1-12 are sought who may not have had previous access to the program. 4-H is a voluntary, federally authorized, asset-based organization whose mission is to provide youth with opportunities to develop life and career skills in fun and practical ways that include the entire family.
Coordinated by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and some 150 adult volunteers, 4-H can be especially relevant for home school families, offering a variety of projects and teaching materials that supplement traditional book learning with interactive approaches to topics such as computers, electricity and environmental science. These materials are relevant for both teachers and parents who are building a home school curriculum. Home school families can incorporate 4-H projects into their academic lessons. LaGrange County 4-H currently offers over fifty projects for students in grades 3-12, and twenty for Future or Mini 4-H youth in grades 1 and 2. Future 4-H is designed to provide younger students with simple, hands on learning opportunities in a non-competitive atmosphere.
Most 4-H projects are research-based, written by university faculty and targeted to age-appropriate educational standards. LaGrange County 4-H has worked to stay in step with the interests of contemporary youth. Newer projects include consumer clothing, creative writing, reading, recycling, scrapbook, shooting sports, and sports.
4-H is volunteer-based. Adult leaders and parents offer their time and talents to assist youth in reaching their fullest potential through practical experience with hands-on activities, leadership development, and community service.
The interest of 4-H in serving home school families coincides with a rapid rate of growth in home school enrollment, which has doubled – and possibly tripled – during the last decade. Statistics provided by such agencies as the U.S. Department of Education and the National Home Education Research Institute indicate that this population now reaches over 1.5 million students. Indiana and LaGrange County mirror the national trend. For the 2011-2012 school year, research indicates there were over 33,000 home-schooled students in Indiana. The actual number may be even higher since Indiana does not require families to notify state government if they are home schooling.
The 4-H program is one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the world. In 2012 some 200,000 Hoosier youth participated in one or more of the 4-H teaching media. LaGrange County 4-H currently provides programming with its 20 township and county project clubs as well as in collaborations with schools and other community agencies. The 4-H program is open to all age eligible youth, regardless of race, ethnicity, residency, religion, socioeconomic status, or disability. Supported by both local government and many community businesses and individuals, the per member state program fee makes 4-H a highly cost effective education option.
To obtain additional information about enrollment in LaGrange County 4-H, readers should contact the Purdue University Extension office at 499-6334 or visit related websites at www.extension.purdue.edu/lagrange or www.lagrangecounty4h fair.com.