California 4-H is looking to boost its standing and help it win a national competition by building a network of 4-H alumni and friends.
People are considered alumni if they were in a 4-H Club, took part in a 4-H after-school program, served as a volunteer leader, or taught a project. Friends of 4-H are also invited to raise their hands.
"Having experienced our programs first-hand, our alumni know about the positive impact of 4-H," said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and a 4-H alumna. UC ANR is the umbrella organization of 4-H in California.
As part of the new 4-H network being built in the 4-H Raise Your Hand campaign, members will get news about 4-H programs in California and stay in touch with a program that made a difference in their lives.
"I've raised my hand," said Humiston, who credits 4-H with helping her become the first in her family to attend college. She later served in the Peace Corps, received a federal appointment from President Obama and now leads the statewide research and outreach arm of UC.
The National 4-H program, which currently empowers nearly 6 million youth across the country, aims to extend its reach to 10 million by 2025. It has launched a competition among states to see which ones can add the most alumni and friends to the network by June 30, 2017. A map showing the current front runners is on the registration page.
"We need the help of all 4-H members, their teachers, leaders and friends to build the California network," Humiston said. "The prize is $20,000, and if we win, that money will fund California 4-H youth leadership programs."
Another well-known 4-H alum is Grammy-award winning musician and actress 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," Nettles said. "These skills will help them to handle whatever life may throw their way."
The California 4-H youth development program is open to all youth aged 5 through 19 years old. Visit http://4-H.org/raiseyourhand to voice your support for the California 4-H youth development program. For more information about California 4-H or to join a program, go to http://4H.ucanr.edu.