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Monday, May 1, 2017

I pledge my hands to larger service

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my family, my club, my community, my country, and my world.
 -The 4-H Pledge

Dr. Freeman
Reflecting on the 4-H Pledge can help us identify ways of making the best better in our lives. Last month I wrote about the heart part of our 4-H Pledge. Today, I'd like to consider our hands.

I pledge my hands to larger service.

Did you know that youth in 4-H are 4 times more likely to actively contribute to their communities and 2 times more likely to be civically active? This is outstanding and a wonderful fact that I'm proud to tell others any chance I get.

But what does service really look like in the hands of our youth? How are young people in 4-H making a difference in our communities? Let me share a couple examples.

Kendra is an 11th grader in Scott County. She volunteers her time at a local elementary school teaching younger youth about internet safety. The 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program has empowered her to help young people in her community make safe choices online. “I take time out of my own school day to teach,” said Kendra. “I had no idea how much of an impact I could make and how much I’d learn about myself. Being a teen teacher is amazing.”

4-H youth teaching about healthy living to younger youth
Kelsey is a 9th grader in Cottonwood County. She partnered with 4-H program coordinator Crystal Reith to plan and host a series of workshops that promoted healthy living practices. "Many schools offer only a limited amount of time for physical activity,” explained Crystal about their shared project. “We wanted to help youth to get more activity and to encourage healthy eating." Their efforts helped youth from across the county discover practical ways to take care of their whole selves. “And it was a fun way to get involved,” said Kelsey.

Every day, 4-H’ers are working hard to make a difference. Like Mahatma Gandhi suggested, they are being the change they desire to see in the world. The efforts and results of our youth are inspiring and worth celebrating.

The benefits of serving
According to research, there are lifelong benefits for youth who feel valued and useful in their communities. Higher self-esteem, optimism about the future, greater levels of moral reasoning, and reduced substance abuse are just a few of those outcomes.

So when you see young people using their hands for larger service, please take a moment to thank them. Find a way of honoring their work. Let them know just how much you value their presence in our community. Perhaps you could even join them.

When we commit our hands to larger service, we are not just doing a good thing. We are discovering that it is an honor and a privilege to put others ahead of ourselves.

Pledging my hands to larger service,

Dorothy M. Freeman
4-H State Director


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