Each year I look forward to "4-H: A Capitol Experience," when hundreds of young people, many wearing their green jackets, join us in Frankfort during the legislative session to be recognized on the floor of the Kentucky State Senate and House of Representatives. I am always filled with a sense of pride when I see these young people and know that they are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.
Recent research shows that 4-H alumni are more likely to be involved on school boards, with PTA groups and in other such leadership positions than are alumni of other organizations.
Famous 4-H alumni include vice presidents Al Gore and Walter Mondale as well as David Letterman and Johnny Carson.
Priding itself on developing future leaders, 4-H gives young people the skills they need to be anything they want to be — business leaders, accountants, lawyers, doctors, athletes, entertainers, teachers, politicians, farmers — the list is only limited by your imagination because 4-H opens the door to all possibilities.
The 4-H Youth Development program sponsors 4-H clubs in urban and rural areas throughout the state. Approximately 230,000 young people, ranging in ages from 9 to 19, participate in 4-H clubs, school enrichment, special interest, individual study and mentoring in every county of the state.
Kentucky ranks in the top 10 of several 4-H enrollment categories nationally. Kentucky 4-H youth participate in such diverse areas as citizenship and civic engagement; communication and expressive arts; family and consumer sciences; environmental education and earth sciences; health lifestyle education; personal development; leadership; plant science; animal science, and technology.
Participation in 4-H provides young people with hands-on real life opportunities to learn skills, gain knowledge, and make contributions in these same areas and others, including community service and youth issues.
Throughout the years, 4-H has changed to embrace new fields of endeavor, and has spread across the globe through sponsorship of the International 4-H Youth Exchange.
The University of Kentucky's Cooperative Extension Service and its extension professionals, along with thousands of dedicated volunteers, and with the support of 4-H parents, keep the 4-H program functioning effectively. The program has also developed mutually beneficial partnerships with education, business, government, organizations and individuals.
And still, 4-H is more. It also promotes youth having fun.
Getting involved in 4-H is easy and I encourage all young people to look into the programming. Adults, 4-H has a place for us also as leaders.
To get information, just contact the staff at the local county cooperative extension service office. The agent for 4-H Youth Development will be glad to provide you with the 4-H opportunities available in our community.
I can state without hesitation that 4-H is a good thing and our community, our state and our nation are the better for it.
State Sen. R.J. Palmer II of Winchster represents District 28, which includes Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Harrison, Montgomery and Nicholas counties.