With programs in all 15 Arizona counties, on five American Indian reservations and on four military bases, Arizona’s 4-H offers more than 100 projects for youth involvement focused around science, agriculture, education and other areas.
More than 9,000 students ages 5 to 19 participate statewide in 4-H and an additional 190,000 are involved through 4-H-sponsored special educational opportunities. Those programs offer a multitude of educational programs in agriculture, animal science, civic engagement, arts, community service, environmental science, nutrition, leadership, and much more.
Children build underwater remote-operated vehicles as part of the UA's Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development program last year.
April Ehrlich, a UA physiology senior, signed up for 4-H when she was 9 and stuck with it until she was 18. She showed lambs for the first six years and then steer for the rest of her time.
“I make no exaggerations when I say that the values I feel define myself today were instilled during my time spent as a 4-H showman. I learned to be hardworking, respectful, frugal, confident, helpful, friendly, responsible and caring,” she said. “4-H is a unique experience that gave me the tools to become a well-rounded adult, prepared for the road ahead.”
Arizona’s 4-H, managed by the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is known for its achievements and high participation numbers. This month its success was honored through the Governor’s Award for Service and Volunteerism in the large organization category.
The governor’s award aims to promote an ideal of service and volunteerism within Arizona and to recognize volunteer efforts that strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for Arizonans.
“Volunteerism and community service have been the heart and soul of the 4-H program for more than 100 years,” said Kirk Astroth, director of Arizona 4-H Youth Development at the UA. “This award is a tribute to the thousands of volunteers – both youth and adult – who have given so much to enrich the lives of Arizonans and the communities in which they live.”
Astroth will attend the awards ceremony and reception at the state capitol from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 25.
It’s the volunteers who make 4-H happen – all 2,000 of them. One of them, John Whiteside, a Tucson resident who has worked with the program for nine years, was recognized Wednesday in Billings, Mont., for his efforts. Whiteside was given the Western region Volunteer of the Year Award by the National 4-H Council through its Regional 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Program.
The volunteer recognition program involves a rigorous selection process by review teams that narrow the list of nominees and select winners for the North Central, North East, Southern and Western regions. Each regional awardee receives $200 to be donated to a 4-H program of their choice along with a $400 travel scholarship to attend their Salute to Excellence Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum.
“I am fortunate to have a wonderful group of people to work with in Arizona,” Whiteside said. “They make it easy to stay dedicated to 4-H. Most important, though, is the support I have from my wife, Laurel. This is a joint effort for us.”
Each regional volunteer awardee will be considered for Salute to Excellence national recognition, to be announced in April during National Volunteer Week.
Recognitions such as these serve as symbols of Arizona 4-H’s service and dedication to the broader, statewide community.