Eye on Extension Raise your hand for the 4-H program

VALLEY — What do country singer Jennifer Nettles, actress Aubrey Plaza, cartoonist Jim Davis, animal scientist Temple Grandin, and former president Jimmy Carter all have in common?

All are alumni of the 4-H program!

4-H, the largest youth development program in the nation, is calling on all alumni to raise their hands to help bring 4-H to 10 million youth by 2025. Currently 4-H empowers nearly six million young people in every county across America, including 113,780 4-H’ers in Colorado. The program reaches more than 300 youth here in the San Luis Valley through community clubs and outreach programs.

For more than 100 years, the 4-H impact on young people has been immeasurable. Having experienced our programs first-hand, our alumni know best what a positive impact 4-H had on them growing up. That is why the program is reaching out to alumni to help support the next generation of true leaders.

“Whether they’re running Fortune 100 companies, performing to sold-out crowds, leading community programs or volunteering to empower local youth, 4 H alumni are the epitome of true leadership,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4 H Council. “Our remarkable alumni now have the perfect opportunity to pay it forward, ensuring that the next generation has the opportunity to benefit from the 4 H experience.”

As part of the Raise Your Hand call to action through June 30, 4-H is asking the millions of 4-H alumni across the nation, including 4-H alums in Colorado, to “Raise Your Hand” and pay it forward in support of providing the hands-on learning that empowers kids across America.

Participating is easy – alumni can go online to www.4-H.org/raiseyourhand and fill in their details. Filling out this simple form serves as a vote for Colorado 4-H in a contest for increased funding support. Awards of $20,000, $10,000 or $5,000 will be presented to the states with the most alumni hands raised.

Alumni can increase their impact by sharing the campaign with their friends and family through social media. They are also encouraged to share their own 4-H memories and experiences using the hashtag #4HGrown. These stories will be featured right alongside those of famous alums like Grammy-award winning musician Jennifer Nettles.

“4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn by doing, to grow from not only the encouragements brought by success, but also through challenges and failures, as these skills will help them to handle whatever life may throw their way,” explained Nettles, who is a 4-H national spokesperson.

If you’re a local alum, take a minute to “Raise Your Hand” to show your support today at www.4-H.org/raiseyourhand! Also consider participating in the Colorado 4-H “Raise Your Hand” photo contest. Take a creative picture of yourself or others raising your hand for 4-H through September 1. Post your photo to the Colorado 4-H Facebook page at www.facebook.com/colorado4h with the hashtag #RaiseYourHand for a chance to win cool prizes.

Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. To find out more about Extension and the 4-H program visit http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu or call 719-852-7381. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.