4-H members are growing leadership and citizenship skills, building self-confidence and exploring the outdoors. This learning is done through various clubs, summer activities, classroom experiences and trips.

Research shows that youth benefit from connections with adults other than their parents and from a sense of belonging, so volunteer leaders and long-term involvement in 4-H clubs help us grow youth in Jackson County.

Here’s how Jackson County 4-H members grew the “4 H’s” this summer:

HEAD: Six youth participated in the West District Activity Day to master the art of public presentations. They stretched themselves as they learned to research, plan, create an oral presentation, make posters or slides, practice, follow through and then finally, speak to an audience of approximately 30 people. The 4-H members, ranging in age from 9-16, grew skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.

HEART: This second “H” encourages growth in relationship building, caring, social skills, communication and cooperation. Rae Shaw, 16, Youth Leadership Council 2018-19 secretary, practiced her skills at the ninth annual North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Youth Summit, which was held in Aug. 24-25 in Hickory. North Carolina 4-H and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with the NCACC on a multi-year initiative to increase youth involvement in county government. This initiative helps youth learn more about county government as well as how to become more involved in local decision-making. More than 70 youth and adults from 63 counties were represented during this event. The Youth Summit is sponsored and supported by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. Jackson County 4-H is helping grow leaders.

HANDS: The newly elected officers for the 2018-19 Youth Leadership Council are co-presidents, Holly Miller and Anna Morgan; secretary, Rae Shaw; and treasurer, Kylie Cox. YLC began in 2010 with four members and has grown to approximately 25 members. The officers spent time in August understanding their own leadership styles in order to best lead others. They discussed how their club can serve the community through service and leadership and how to grow their teamwork and planning skills. For more information about how 4-H can help your child or grandchild grow, contact Heather Gordon at heather_gordon@ncsu.edu.

HEALTH: We are living in a fast-paced society with the many advantages that technology gives us. Unfortunately, this also means children and families spend much less time outdoors than in previous generations. Jackson County 4-H encourages healthy activities and embraces that with an ongoing Hiking Club. In August, we completed a 4-mile hike at Black Balsam Knob. We enjoyed a glorious blue sky day as we explored why butterflies congregate around puddles, looked at flowers, squished through mud, clamored over rocks and learned to read a trail map. 4-H growth occurred on this day as we persevered to complete this long hike for (mostly) little legs.

Heather Gordon is extension agent, 4-H Youth Development, Jackson County Center, N.C. Cooperative Extension.