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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

March 31, 2020

Reflections: 4-H Mission Motivates Our Response

Submitted by Wade M. Weber


4-H Youth Development is an Extension Program.

And as an Extension program, 4-H shares valuable information with people in the form of scientifically reliable facts. Facts about how attitude, behavior and systems impact other people and the environment we share.

Yet I know from my counseling background, that it is often observed that many people make decisions with their emotions and then justify them with facts. We know the responses of people to stress is to fight, flight, or freeze. Stressful times amplify this tendency as we have all seen with toilet paper shortages on store shelves.

I also know from professional training, that being able to see yourself apart from your setting or stressor can give perspective and allow a more tempered response versus being reactionary.

So I pose the question, what is 4-H apart from this present situation?
To frame a response, I will share what I heard a speaker say recently that crisis causes organizations to evaluate their product, process, and people.

What is 4-H's Product?
Youth developing into tomorrow's leaders by involving them today!

What is 4-H's Process?
Connecting with people. Learning by doing. Giving youth an opportunity to be responsible for something valuable. Discovering a kid's spark! Thinking critically. Pursuing questions. Growing in abilities. Exercising generosity. Pursuing the next right thing.

Who are 4-H's People?
Each and every one of you! People reaching out to people! Inviting others to learning together. Giving grace to each other in these crazy times. Yet banding together and being purposeful because youth are watching how we do this. They are observing how we handle decision making in stressful times and more importantly they are observing how we handle/talk about stress in these uncertain times. So look for ways to identify with youth in the wide range of responses to the events of our times. Help them give voice to the loss of relationships, activities, and routine. Yet look for ways to connect to our community.

I am so proud of the work that KSRE professionals are doing with their local 4-H programs. Your resiliency, purposefulness, and innovation to connect youth to the developmental goals we aspire to in 4-H is to be commended. You inspire me to keep working day by day in these uncertain times taking the next right step. Together we are building a resilient 4-H program! Keep living out the 4-H Pledge each and every day.

We're in this together.