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State 4-H event promotes personal responsibility

The Issue

Young people want to contribute to their communities and are often our most enthusiastic champions. To become agents of change, however, they need opportunities to exercise and develop personal responsibility and character skills. Research shows that the development of personal character (being an accountable, committed and effective communicator) underlies individual and community success.

What Has ANR Done?

Since 2002, the California State 4-H Office has organized the State 4-H Field Day as the culmination of 6 months of young people's efforts. On the path toward the State 4-H Field Day, youth set a goal, pursue this goal and often need to shift gears upon encountering obstacles. Through this process, young people have an opportunity to demonstrate and grow their skills, ostensibly in public speaking and interview techniques, but ultimately their personal responsibility, accountability and character.

The Payoff

4-H youth prepared to positively impact their communities

Young people improve their public speaking and interviewing skills through presentation preparation, but ultimately it is their personal responsibility and character that are developed. Over 5,000 young people have participated in the State 4-H Field Day since 2002. The evaluation of the 2013 event showed that three-quarters of participants “Agreed” or “Strongly Agreed” that the event motivated them, that feedback from the judges was useful, that they felt a sense of belonging with their 4-H peers and that their personal responsibility would continue to develop through 4-H.
The process of refining their presentations has put these young people in contact with their goals and ambitions, skills in problem solving and overcoming obstacles, and abilities to learn from personal reflection and the critiques of others. The 4-H Field Day has proved to be an opportunity for extended learning and character building. It has given youth an opportunity to exercise, develop and showcase their personal responsibility and character, thereby strengthening the economic and social base of the broader community.

Clientele Testimonial

"I was able to share my passion for public speaking by being the teen leader for the Presentation Project. ... This year I was able to present: “Got Asthma?”. In the future, I will use my experiences in the Presentation Project to make me a leader with presentation skills. I will be a passionate leader. Even when I grow older, I will share my public speaking passion with others." - Jessica, 4-H member


Supporting Unit: Youth, Families & Communities - 4-H

Steven Worker, smworker@ucanr.edu, and Sarah Watkins, spwatkins@ucanr.edu